Four Candidates to Run for City Commission

Four Candidates to Run for City Commission

by Geri Throne / December 11, 2019

Winter Park will have a full slate of candidates when its city election is held March 17. As qualifying closed Tuesday, four candidates had qualified for the two open city commission seats.

Jeffrey Blydenburgh and James “Marty” Sullivan both qualified for Seat 1, now held by Commissioner Greg Seidel, who did not run for reelection. Carl E. Creasman Jr. and Sheila DeCiccio qualified to run for Seat 2, now held by Sarah Sprinkel, who also did not run for reelection.

SEAT 1

Marty Sullivan, 72, said he decided to run because “I served on a lot of boards in the city and really enjoy the town. I believe the city is at a juncture where we want citizens to cooperate with business and development to make it a win-win for all three, with particular attention to citizens.” Sullivan, whose profession was in environmental and geotechnical engineering, is retired and has lived in the city 37 years. Among the city boards we served on were the Utility Advisory Board, Stormwater Board of Appeals and Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Board, all of which he chaired, and the Lakes and Waterways Advisory Board and Transportation Task Force.

Jeffrey Blydenburgh, 71, a retired architect and planner, has lived in the city 22 years. “I saw there was an opportunity to continue to serve the community,” he said, describing the city as “well led” in the past. He noted that others see him as having a “balanced view” on how the city will address growth. Blydenburgh is board member and past chair of Mead Botanical Garden Inc., a volunteer group that operates the city-owned park. He previously served on the city’s Historic Preservation Board, as vice-chair of the city visioning process in 2016 and past president of Winter Park Rotary.

SEAT 2

Creasman, 55, a history professor at Valencia College, is youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Winter Park. He has lived in the city 26 years. He served five years on the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the last four as chair. He could not be reached for comment, but, according to his web site, his vision includes “defending the future charm and wonder of Winter Park.” His focus, the site says, will be to continue to invest in and expand parks; strengthen city partnerships with Rollins College and Valencia; have “courageous conversations” about transportation, traffic, biking and accessibility, and encourage “healthy business and entrepreneurship.”

DeCiccio, 63, a lawyer, has lived in the city 37 years. She was inspired to run while serving on the planning and zoning board, she said. “The issue of the library came up, and there were so many unanswered questions” related to such issues as parking, drainage and size. She became worried about all the development happening in the city, she said, and realized, “we’re either going to look like the great wall of Maitland or we’re going to preserve our charm.” Besides the planning and zoning board, DeCiccio has served on the city’s Economic Advisory Board, the Code Enforcement Board and the Orange Avenue advisory steering committee.

Waddell House Owners to Replace Porches

Waddell House Owners to Replace Porches

December 10, 2019 / by Geri Throne

Facing a daily city fine of $250, owners of Winter Park’s historic Waddell House told the city this week they plan to replace the rotted porches of the Victorian-styled structure.

“We want to work with the city not argue with the city,” David and Deborah Dunaway wrote in a letter dated December 9.

Last week, the city’s code compliance board ruled that the Dunaways violated the city’s historic preservation ordinance in July when they removed the home’s intricate two-story porch without a permit. It ordered the Dunaways to submit restoration plans in seven days or face a $250 fine for each day they remained in violation.

The letter included two sketches, one of the frontage of the house and the other of porch detail. “This is the first rendering of our plans to replace the rotted porches on our house at 1331 Aloma Ave.,” the letter stated. The sketches were said to be based on the home’s original design, as found in historic photos in the city library, and did not include “the add on or additions.” Additional architectural drawing and another permit application were promised to be submitted by Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

The home is named after William Waddell, a city pioneer who first occupied it. In 2005, long-time owners of the home had it put on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places before selling it. At the time, dense foliage in front of the home kept it mostly screened from view on busy Aloma Avenue. The Dunaways bought it in February of this year for $480,000 without an inspection. After they had the porch removed in the summer, highly visible blue tarps put over the front came loose, followed by months of rainwater intrusion.

At the code enforcement hearing, the couple’s attorney, Kevin Donaghy, asserted the house was structurally unsound. The Dunaways have “reached an impasse where they cannot afford to repair the entire home.” The Dunaways letter did not address how those structural issues would be addressed. Donaghy could not be reached for comment.

At a city commission meeting Monday, City Commissioner Todd Weaver and Mayor Steve Leary both praised city staff and the city Historic Preservation Board for their efforts toward preserving the structure.

Orange Avenue on Track to Become Hot Spot

Orange Avenue on Track to Become Hot Spot

December 5, 2019 / by Geri Throne

A 40,000-square-foot lakefront home proposed for Palmer Avenue—the biggest home ever in the city—is garnering the most attention outside Winter Park. But residents who crowded a city planning and zoning board meeting Tuesday had an even bigger issue on their minds: a rezoning plan to convert North Orange Avenue into the city’s next intensely developed hot spot.

After a long line of residents spoke for and against the rezoning proposal, members of the advisory board all voiced their enthusiastic support. They agreed that benefits would outweigh any negatives and voted unanimously to recommend the proposal to the city commission.

City commissioners will consider the rezoning plan at its Jan. 13 meeting.

Planning jargon aside…

Despite use of planning jargon such as “overlay district” and “placemaking” at Tuesday’s hearing, the issues surrounding the proposed Orange Avenue district boil down to familiar zoning concerns: Is growth “inevitable” in Winter Park, and if it is, how much development should be packed into an area? How high should buildings be allowed? How much extra traffic should be created?  How well would new construction mesh with existing structures?

City Planning Director Bronce Stephenson said a flexible mixed-use overlay is the best way to deal with the avenue’s future growth. He defended the months-long process the city went through to arrive at the proposal, noting that residents were involved early on. An 11-member appointed steering committee, made up of people with broad ranges of opinion about development, participated in the recommendations.

“Despite what has been reported [in social media], the small-scale character of Orange Avenue has been promoted and protected throughout the process to the highest extent possible,” Stephenson said.

Residents concerned about the new zoning district, however, were not convinced. They asked the planning board for more time to digest the thick packet explaining the proposal. They noted the potential for congestion, more traffic and buildings as tall as five and seven stories within the district.

Although the number of residential units in the district would stay the same, total development in the proposed district would become more intense. Under current zoning, almost 1.9 million square feet of development is possible in the district. With the new district zoning, the total square footage possible would climb to more than 2.6 million.

The debate…

The benefit, Stephenson said, would be a mixed-use plan that would improve the area visually, attract more visitors, and cure what the city sees as “economic stagnation” on Orange Avenue from Fairbanks Avenue to US 17-92. Some other pluses he cited: wider, safer sidewalks; more open space; connection with nearby Mead Botanical Gardens, and parking garages set back behind buildings. Design standards would ensure that new structures would be attractive and compatible with neighboring buildings.

Existing zoning also would allow more development, he said, and perhaps not what residents might desire. Without new and creative zoning, he warned, a Wal-Mart-sized structure could be built with a huge paved parking lot.

Some residents, however, worried that the plan didn’t do enough to honor the city’s stated commitment to cherish “its traditional scale and charm.” Resident Bart Johnson said that exceptions to that goal in most of the proposed district were big enough for a developer to “drive a truck through.”

“Citizens need more time to fully understand the implications” of the lengthy new ordinance, pleaded resident Pat McDonald, a concern echoed by other residents.

Frank Hamner, an attorney representing the Holler family, a major property owner in the area, criticized calls for further delay as having “a different purpose” than stated. Residents had ample time to attend the numerous public meetings about the proposal, he said. Their calls for more time were “a distraction” to “delay for delay’s purposes.” Hamner also accused unidentified people of posting online anonymously and knocking on doors “spreading lies” about the plan.  Those people should “come up out of the sewer,” and make their case face to face, he said.

Traffic worries

Stephenson downplayed traffic worries. The planning director stressed that the overlay is a “framework” or starting point, which must be approved before a traffic study can be done. He also cited a state study that found few drivers stopped on Orange Avenue as a destination. He described it as a “cut through” road.

That four-lane stretch of North Orange Avenue is no shortcut, however. It serves as an arterial road in Winter Park, connecting Winter Park commuters to State Road 527 and US 17-92 and helping them get from one side of the city to the other. Traffic accidents on that stretch are frequent, city statistics show. Until a traffic study is conducted, it remains unknown how traffic safety, street parking and traffic flow will be juggled under the proposed design.

Left unknown…

Undecided in the proposed ordinance is the fate of Progress Point, an odd-shaped, city-owned parcel at the intersections of Orange Avenue and Denning Drive. The steering committee could not agree how the lot should be used or whether the city should sell it. Sheila Deciccio, a member of that steering committee, urged that the city keep the land, which might help solve area stormwater and parking problems. The site is “one of the jewels we have left,” she said.

Also unknown, but probably not in doubt, is an unrelated agenda item—the fate of the massive 40,093-square-foot home that real-estate developer Marc Hagle wants to build on Lake Osceola. The planning and zoning board tabled its vote until next month after some board members and two neighbors raised questions about a proposed setback.

Charter, TDT Grant, City Manager Performance

Doesn’t Sound Lively – But It Was

Charter, TDT Grant, City Manager Performance

The November 25 Commission meeting managed to pack a few surprises into what initially appeared to be a light (if not boring) pre-holiday agenda.

Seidel Will Not Run in 2020

First, Commissioner Greg Seidel announced he will not seek re-election in 2020, citing work and family issues. That leaves Seats 1 and 2 up for grabs. Candidate qualifying begins December 3, 2019.

Commission Votes to Approve Contract for $6 Million TDT Grant

The motion to approve the contract for the Orange County Tourist Development Tax (TDT) grant was problematic in the absence of a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the Canopy project, which will come to the Commission in January 2020.

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper voiced her concern that signing the contract before knowing the GMP would tie the City’s hands. According to City Attorney Kurt Ardaman, the grant application specifies the location of both the library and the events center and prevents the City from making “substantial changes,” even though such changes may be necessary to make the project affordable if the GMP comes in higher than expected.

Commissioner Todd Weaver moved to table the motion until after the Commission has discussed the GMP in January. Cooper seconded the motion, but the motion to table failed on a 3-2 vote. And even though there was no deadline requiring the contract be signed before the GMP comes in, the Commission voted 3-2 to approve the contract for the TDT grant, again with Weaver and Cooper dissenting.

City Manager Performance Review

The Commission then engaged in the annual ritual of City Manager Randy Knight’s performance review. The Commission voted 4-1 to award a 2 percent bonus in lieu of a salary increase. The dissenting vote was cast by Commissioner Cooper. She states her reasons in this video: click this link to view.

With regard to the mistaken information in the TDT grant application cited by Cooper, Communications Director Clarissa Howard stated that when the mistake on the application was discovered, the period for online submission of TDT/ARC grant applications had closed. “The only opportunity to correct the mistake was during the verbal presentation before the TDT/ARC Board,” said Howard, “and the Board cut Mayor Leary’s presentation short, so he had no opportunity to correct the mistake.”

Voters Will Decide Charter Amendments

The Commission then took up the matter of the Charter amendments that will be put to the voters on the March 17, 2020, ballot. On 3-2 votes, with Sprinkel and Leary dissenting, three of the more controversial issues will appear on the ballot for the voters to decide.

Annual Salaries for Mayor & Commissioners

Voters will have the opportunity to raise annual salaries for the first time in many years to $12,600 for Commissioners and $15,000 for the Mayor. The hope is that this will provide the opportunity for a more diverse pool of qualified candidates to run for elected office. 

Board Appointments Would No Longer Be Made Only by the Mayor

Appointments to City advisory boards and ad hoc committees will be distributed among the Mayor and Commissioners. The amendment states in part, “. . . each board and ad hoc committee shall have seven members . . . . Three of the seven members of the board or committee shall be appointed by the Mayor and such members shall serve at the Mayor’s pleasure. Each of the four City Commissioners shall appoint one of the seven members of the board or committee and such members shall serve at the pleasure of the City Commissioner holding the Commission seat that appointed the member.”

Video Conferencing Would Be Provided for Absent Commissioners to Vote

This amendment states in part, “Voting on ordinances and resolutions shall be by roll call vote of the Commissioners and the Mayor. . . . The affirmative vote of three members of the City Commission who are physically present at the meeting, either in person or through the use of video-conferencing, shall be necessary to adopt any ordinance or resolution. The use of video-conferencing by an individual member of the City Commission shall be limited to not more than three times per calendar year and shall be subject to approval pursuant to and governed by rules and procedures adopted by the City Commission.”

Commissioners have had difficulty teleconferencing in to meetings. Adoption of this amendment will require the City to acquire video conferencing equipment, which it does not currently have.

Stronger Language for Non-Partisan City Elections

The amendment states in part, “Upon qualifying for office through the election, a candidate for the office of city commissioner or mayor shall not: (1) Campaign and/or publicly represent or advertise herself or himself as a member of any political party; or (2) Accept campaign contributions from any political party.

(b) A candidate for commissioner or mayor who violates a provision of this section shall be liable for a civil fine of up to $1,000 per violation. The City Commission shall adopt an ordinance describing the procedure to determine violations, provide due process, and set fines.”

The issue of donations from partisan Political Action Committees (PACs) came up, but no prohibition could be included in the Charter because it would conflict with federal law.

The full text of these and other amendments can be found here: https://winterpark.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/CoverSheet.aspx?ItemID=1498&MeetingID=195

Scroll to the bottom of the Cover Sheet and click on the tiny blue line that says “Revised Ordinance.”

These and other amendments to the City Charter will appear on the ballot for voter decision in the March 17, 2020, election.

 

What's Wrong With the Orange Avenue Overlay As Written?

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

What’s Wrong With the Orange Avenue Overlay As Written?

 

by Beth Hall Guest Columnist

The list is long.

To begin with…the idea of the OAO did not originate with you or your neighbors. Not at all.
The Voice has one thing right. It is true that “mixed use” is already allowed all along the Orange corridor as well as throughout Winter Park. Has been for a long time.
Here’s what the Voice and the city staffers are not telling you. Only low intensity/ low density mixed use was allowed.
Here’s another thing they are not telling you:
High density residential apartments/condos (R-4) are BACK!!
Large scale multi-family residential buildings will again be permitted in Winter Park. Yes, that’s right. High density residential apartments (or condos) like the Paseo will now be allowed- again.
This means that when the city commission voted UNANIMOUSLY on April 24, 2017, to eliminate high density residential apartments from our futures (except where grandfathered), they apparently meant “only for a little while.” (The backlash from the Paseo was the driving force. No more Paseos we were told.)
Pete Weldon even RAN on it in the last commission race. “I removed R-4 (high density apartment zoning)”, he crowed! I preserved Winter Park’s residential character! Leary endorsed Weldon praising very specifically the move by Weldon to get rid of the bane of high density residential (R-4) from all of our lives. No more Paseo’s.
Did either Leary or Weldon mean it? We will soon find out.
And, did Seidel, Sprinkel and Cooper all mean it when they voted unanimously on 4-24-17 to eliminate developers’ future ability to seek high density (25 units per acre) residential housing under our comp plan and zoning codes? We will soon know.
Just how serious and how genuine were those votes? The “issues” on Orange were all well known at the time of the vote and well before the vote to remove R-4 on 4-17-17.
If they vote to adopt the overlay as written at the meeting on January 13, 2020, then Paseo-like high density residential will be back with a vengeance.
In fact, the buildings with all the units will be even bigger. This is because It won’t just be the apartments or condos, it will be the giant parking garages that go with them.
IF the overlay passes as it is, a new high-density complex of over 200 units can now be built by Holler on the vacant RV parcel at Denning and Fairbanks; and, Demetree will be entitled to build over 200 housing units on the site of the original Lombardi’s building.
These mega complexes will be allowed to reach 5 stories and 7 stories in height, respectively. And the big parking garages they need will be excluded from FAR calculations which previously acted to limit total massing. Poof! Not anymore.
Winter Park residents cherish the traditional scale and character of Winter Park. They value the low-density residential character of the city. They have said so over and over and over again.
The votes cast by commissioners on January 13, 2020, will tell us whether they intend to honor the commitment they made to us on April 24, 2017.
Mixed use zoning or an overlay does not HAVE to mean the return of high-density residential housing (R-4). But if THIS overlay is approved as written that is exactly what we will be getting. They’ll just call it something different.

 

What is an Overlay District?

What Does It Mean for the Orange Avenue Corridor?

What is an Overlay District?

Back in 2016, the Commission added a provision to the City’s Comprehensive Plan promising the creation of a “Mixed Use Overlay” category ‘within one year.’

Now that we are finally getting around to it, what is it anyway?

‘Mixed Use’ is a development term – a type of development Winter Park has done before on Park Avenue and in Hannibal Square that includes commercial, retail and residential development. Some would include Winter Park Village in that category, though the residential component is less apparent. The rules for these specific areas have worked well for us. That’s why Park Avenue and Hannibal Square look the way they do and why they have stood the test of time.

Asked what happens if a developer just follows regular City zoning regulations instead, Planning Director Bronce Stephenson responded, “Trader Joe’s.”

What is happening on Orange Avenue is a mixed use zoning overlay, but you can call it ‘mixed use,’ an ‘overlay district’ – or baked potatoes. Simply put, a zoning overlay regulates development within certain geographical boundaries in a manner that expresses the community’s vision of what they want the area to be. In this case, it also is way of granting entitlements to developers that seems fairer to the City.

What ‘City’?

Parenthetically, this brings us to a thought to keep in mind during this discussion: Who or what is The City? Is it you and me and everyone who lives here and pays taxes? Is it the elected officials who sit on the dais? Is it the staffers who toil behind the scenes to make the machinery work? Is it all of the above?

In the case of the Orange Avenue project, the answer is ‘all of the above.’ In April, the [then new] Director of Planning and Community Development, Bronce Stephenson, brought together a Steering Committee of 11 citizens from across the political spectrum to create a vision for what the Orange Avenue corridor should be. The Committee met 12 times over the summer. Public input was taken at each meeting.

The Steering Committee and staff identified a specific geographic area, divided it into sub-areas depending upon the type of development that was either existing or possible, and decided how they thought the area could develop in a way that would preserve the eclectic character and offer the greatest benefit to The City. The area they defined became the Orange Avenue Overlay (OAO) area.

Three large landowners – Demetree Holdings on the southern part of Orange Avenue, Holler Properties on Denning and Fairbanks, and City-owned Progress Point in the middle – all have holdings that are large enough to be able to provide resources to upgrade the entire corridor for The City.

The Problem

To fix area-wide issues that affect existing businesses and discourage redevelopment within the OAO district, staff and the Steering Committee first had to identify the problems. What they found won’t surprise anyone.

  • • Dangerous and inefficient traffic flow
  • • Archaic one-size-fits-all zoning codes
  • • An approximately 485-space parking deficit – before a single new thing is built
  • • Poor storm water management that causes businesses on Orange Avenue to flood.

The Fix

The OAO seeks to grant entitlements to developers by ‘quid pro quo’ rather than by variance or rezoning. If a developer is granted entitlements by rezoning and/or variance, as is currently the norm, the developer gets some or all of what he or she wants . . . and the City gets little if anything in return.

Give . . .

According to the rules being put in place for the OAO, if the developer has an ‘ask,’ the developer must also bring a ‘give.’ City Planning Director Bronce Stephenson explained that a developer can offer two kinds of ‘gives’ – quantitative and qualitative.

Qualitative gives might include:

  • • Safety & mobility
  • • Life, light and eyes on the street
  • • Connectivity
  • • Better traffic flow
  • • Storm water management

Quantitative ‘gives’ could include:

  • • Shared parking
  • • Storm water treatment and management
  • • Meaningful open space with unrestricted public access
  • • Trails and other mobility enhancements

Of course, there would be overlaps.

. . . and Take

Doors and Keys – for which read: density — pay for storm water mitigation, parking & open space. If developers don’t make money on their projects, they don’t do them. Eliminating parking from Floor Area Ratio (FAR) calculation is one way to help them be profitable. Large owners – Demetree, Holler and the developer of Progress Point – will be able to ‘earn’ up to 200 percent FAR by providing fixes for one or more of the area-wide problems. The 200 percent FAR is what we have on Park Avenue and in Hannibal Square.

Storm Water Treatment

“We are desperate for space for storm water treatment, especially along Orange Avenue,” said Stephenson. “Progress Point is the lowest elevation within the OAO, and that provides an opportunity for the developer of that property to correct the flooding and storm water treatment problem for the entire area.”

Parking

Today’s 485-space parking deficit translates into 3.9 acres of asphalt surface parking,” Stephenson explained. “We want developers to come in and build vertical parking with 10 percent additional shared spaces. There’s not enough room for it to be surface parking. That means, to make their developments work, the parking places should not be included in their FAR calculations.”

Open Space

Developers with properties larger than 1.5 acres must provide 25 percent “meaningful open space.” For the Holler property, at the current asking price, that 25 percent translates to $6 Million worth of land, according to Stephenson – a sizeable ‘give’ in anyone’s estimation.

Give And Take

Described here are just some of the concessions from developers that will provide substantial value to The City as the OAO redevelops. The final draft report of the Steering Committee will provide detailed lists of ways developers can earn entitlements. Information regarding the Committee’s progress is updated regularly on the City website https://cityofwinterpark.org/government/boards/orange-avenue-overlay-steering-committee/.

What About Progress Point?

The Steering Committee, with 10 of its 11 members present, met the night of November 13 at the Mead Botanical Garden Clubhouse to vote on the final report. As the final report was presented, the one remaining bone of contention was the four-acre parcel at Progress Point.

The City owns the land, but will either lease or sell to a third party to develop the parcel. Over the 12 Steering Committee meetings, there had been considerable discussion of a four-story office building with associated parking structure, but a number of Steering Committee members were unhappy with that solution.

Stephenson pointed out that while The City has no pressing need to sell or lease this piece of land, it has not proven itself to be a good steward. The Committee members agreed that what we need at that location is parking, open space, drainage and connectivity with Mead Garden.

Devoting the entire 4+ acres to parkland would deprive the existing Orange Avenue businesses of the opportunity for treatment of storm water that currently floods many of their businesses, and it would deny them desperately needed parking.

No Consensus on Progress Point

At the end of the day, the Steering Committee stipulated in their report that there was no consensus on the use of Progress Point. The Committee voted 8 – 2 to approve the final report. Dissenting were Michael Dick and Sheila DeCiccio.

“We Can Do Better”

Asked why she voted against the report, DeCiccio stated, “I wanted my voice to be heard on Progress Point. I am 100 percent for everything else in the report. I am all for the Holler and Demetree entitlements. But a four-story office building with a garage bigger than the new one at Rollins? We can do so much better than that.”

“Most of what’s there now is already offices and daytime use,” DeCiccio went on. “There can’t be any shared parking in the daytime – they don’t have enough daytime parking as it is, and nothing much goes on there at night. An office building will not contribute anything there.

“There are so many wonderful things we could do there that would activate the area at night,” she said. “We could do a theatre district, food courts, things that people could go to and have fun. We can do more than just green park space, too, but we wouldn’t need so much parking if we put something besides an office building there. Where is our imagination? This is Winter Park – we need something really wonderful for everyone there.”

There is No Lack of Public Input

By the end of this process, the City will have held 19 opportunities for public input.

The Steering Committee Report will go to Planning & Zoning December 3 for a public hearing.

A public information meeting will be held at Gateway Plaza lobby (Commerce National Bank) on December 18, 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

City Planning Director Bronce Stephenson will be at the Farmer’s Market December 21 from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm to answer questions.

You can watch three educational videos about this process at  cityofwinterpark.org/vimeo

And you can email your feedback to OrangeAve@cityofwinterpark.org

 

 

 

Hannibal Square Historian Honored

Fairolyn Livingston Receives Cheney Award from Central FL Historical Society

Hannibal Square Historian Honored

November 5 was a great day for Winter Park when the Historical Society of Central Florida bestowed the 2019 Cheney Award on Fairolyn Livingston, Chief Historian at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center.

The Cheney Award is named for Judge Donald A. Cheney (1889 – 1983) who founded the Orange County Historical Society and the Orange County Historical Museum, predecessors of the current Historical Society and the Orange County Regional History Center. History Center Spokesperson Amanda Henry explained that The Cheney Award was created, “to recognize and honor those who have not chosen between the past and the future – but who understand the two are inseparable.”

“The award,” said Henry, “reminds us all of our champions of the Central Florida community who embody a love, reverence and unfailing dedication for our area’s history.”

Past Cheney Award recipients include the Orlando Sentinel’s Joy Wallace Dickinson (2013), Joseph Wittenstein of Rollins (2017) and James W. “Chief” Wilson (2018).

Fairolyn was honored for her work as Chief Historian at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, where she has used her extensive research to enhance the permanent collection there. She has conducted interviews and written text for numerous exhibits, including the Center’s unique timeline installation, which juxtaposes significant events in local and national African American history.

She is a founding member of the team of documentarians, scholars and residents who in 2002  established the award winning show, The Heritage Collection: Photographs and Oral Histories of West Winter Park. This museum-quality documentary about the residents and history of Hannibal Square has been on permanent display since 2007, when the Heritage Center was established.

Fairolyn now devotes her time to the ongoing expansion of the Hannibal Square Heritage Center’s permanent collection, which includes “The Heritage Collection Phase IX: Hannibal Square Heroes (2017) and two phases of “The Sage Project: Hannibal Square Elders Tell Their Stories.”

The Cheney Award is only the latest in Fairolyn’s list of honors. She has received numerous awards and has shared the Hannibal Square community’s vibrant history with audiences across the state. In 2018, Winter Park Magazine recognized Fairolyn as one of Winter Park’s “Most Influential Citizens” for her contributions to understanding and preserving Central Florida’s history.

“Fairolyn Livingston’s invaluable research and outreach work have filled in many once-overlooked and under-appreciated chapters about a vital, important community centered around Hannibal Square in Winter Park,” said Orange County Historical Society Executive Director Michael Perkins. “We’re honored to present her with this award for her many contributions.”

 

Can an Old House Weather This Storm?

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

Can an Old House Weather This Storm?

Guest Columnist John Skolfield

The Waddell House at 1331 Aloma Avenue was built in 1901, the year Walt Disney, Ed Sullivan and Louis Armstrong were born, the year President William McKinley was assassinated and Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th U.S. President. Hurricane Donna may have roughed up the old house in 1960, but she stood firm and hardly blinked at the Cuban missile crisis. In the end, however, she was no match for the Tennessee attorney who sheared off her façade — the intricate porch design that had been the face of this grande dame for more than 100 years.

Historic Designation in 2005

In 2005, Charles B. and Lurinda J. Smith had the home placed on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places. Mrs. Smith’s family had owned the Waddell House for well over 100 years. This act was intended to bring peace of mind and the assurance the house would be preserved and protected.

Situated on 45,600 square feet of land, historic designation allowed the Smiths to subdivide a 90-foot lot on the east, while preventing further lot splits by future owners. The Smiths could have razed the old house and, with city approval, split the lot into three 15,200 square-foot home sites. They chose instead to preserve a bit of history.

New Owners in 2019

In February 2019, fully aware of the designated historic status and the protections this provided, David and Deborah Dunaway purchased the home for $480,000. According to an email from City Planning Manager Jeff Briggs, the Dunaways met with City staff to confirm their intention to restore the home. They indicated the porch was unstable and that they planned to remove and replace it exactly like it was. Staff advised that before they could do that, their plans had to go to the Historic Preservation Board for approval.

Porches Removed Within the Year

On the weekend of July 8, however, the Dunaways applied for a permit to remove the porches, and rather than wait for the permit to be granted, they had the front and rear porches removed without a permit on the weekend of July 13-14, just before they returned to their home in Tennessee.

City Issues Stop Work Order

On Monday July 15, the Building Department issued a Stop Work Order and directed the owners to submit plans for the restoration of the porches. A tarp had been draped over the roof, but it was improperly secured, and by mid-September, the house had endured two months of water intrusion — a house with horsehair plaster walls and heart of pine floors. Briggs emailed the owners, who said they would correct the problem, but by October 7, nothing had been done to secure the tarp to prevent water intrusion. There was no reply from the Dunaways.

‘Don’t Think We Can Fix It’

Briggs wrote that the owner later said he has retained the services of Orlando Constructors and Inspectors, “to do a complete appraisal of the structural integrity of the home to determine if repairs are possible and feasible or if the home needs to be demolished.”

The neglect of the house appears to be strategic.

City Ordinance Requires Reconstruction

On Tuesday, October 29, I met with City Manager Randy Knight, Assistant City Manager Michelle Neuner, City Planning Manager Jeff Briggs, Director of Planning and Community Development Bronce Stephenson, and historic preservation expert Christine Dalton. They confirmed that City zoning code, Section 58-500, requires the historically accurate reconstruction of the removed porches and provides for heavy penalties for illegal removal.

Demolition by Neglect

In an email to Jeff Briggs, Christine Dalton, formerly Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Sanford and currently a Trustee of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, expressed her concern about the condition of the Waddel house. “With the information I have received so far,” she wrote, “it appears obvious that the property owners are engaging in Demolition by Neglect. They are dismantling the home and have not properly protected it from the elements. As you know, this is a strategy of many property investors – create conditions for deterioration, then hire a structural engineer to write a report stating that the building is unsafe and therefore must be demolished.”

Case Goes to Code Enforcement Board Dec. 5

On November 1, the City sent the owners a Notice of Violation advising them that a Public Hearing before the Code Enforcement Board was scheduled for 3:00 pm on December 5, 2019. The description of the violation was “Porch Structure Removed Illegally Without a Permit.”

Stated Compliance Requirements were, “Submit Plans for the Restoration of the Porch Removed Without a Permit,” with a deadline of November 15, 2019.

According to Briggs, “Nothing can happen with the home until a proposal/plans are submitted to the HPB [Historic Preservation Board], or (upon appeal) the City Commission can approve the demolition of the home.”

 

 

In Memory: Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H

October 28, 2019 – by Rob Humphreys ’16MBA

In Memory: Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H

This article originally appeared on Rollins360, Rollins College’s news site. It is republished here with permission.

Rollins’ 12th president was magical in every  sense of the word.

Photo by Scott CookPhoto by Scott Cook

Waiting in the checkout line at Publix stood a giant man with a giant penchant to charm just about anyone he met, in any capacity, at any time.

Introducing himself to the 7-year-old daughter of a friend, “Taddeo the Great” reached down, flashed a big smile, did a little hocus pocus, and poof—pulled a shiny coin from the girl’s ear.

The child’s eyes, her father recalled, “got about as big as that half-dollar.”

Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, Rollins’ 12th president from 1978 to 1990, possessed a genuine brand of magic that touched countless lives, from students and families to faculty, staff, and the greater Orlando community. A beloved campus icon, accomplished magician, public servant, and academic visionary who returned the College to its liberal arts roots—while famously reinstating Fox Day—Seymour died this past Saturday, October 26, at his Winter Park home. He was 91.

“Thad was a great man and a great president,” says Allan Keen ’70 ’71MBA ’10H, a member of the board of trustees since Seymour appointed him in 1989. It was Keen’s daughter, Kristen ’20 PMBA, who pocketed the 50-cent piece that day at the grocery store. “Thad had a bigger-than-life personality,” continues Keen, “and he elevated Rollins to new heights.”

Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H was president of Rollins College from 1978 to 1990. Photo courtesy Rollins College Archives.
Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H was president of Rollins College from 1978 to 1990. Photo courtesy Rollins College Archives.

Destined for Greatness

Born June 29, 1928, in New York City to Lola Virginia Vickers and Whitney North Seymour, assistant solicitor general in the Hoover administration and later president of the American Bar Association, Seymour attended Princeton and the University of California, Berkeley as an undergraduate.

A lifelong athlete who hit the gym well into his 80s, Seymour—at a muscular 6 feet, 5 inches—competed in the U.S. rowing trials for the 1948 Olympics.

After earning his master’s and PhD in 18th-century English literature from the University of North Carolina, he taught English for five years at Dartmouth, where he coached rowing and became dean of students at age 30. Prior to Rollins, he was president of Wabash College in Indiana for nine years.

“The Seymour presidency proved to be a turning point in Rollins’ history,” writes Jack C. Lane, emeritus professor of American history and college historian, in Rollins College Centennial History. “At a time when the college community was somewhat adrift, or at best standing still, Seymour instilled in the College a revived enthusiasm and provided a sense of continuity and gave it a new sense of direction. … Rollins, he proclaimed, must ‘return to its roots. Our aim is to know ourselves and to be known by others as the finest small liberal arts college in the Southeast, standing among the finest colleges in the country.’”

Thanks in large part to Seymour’s vision, Rollins has been recognized as the No. 1 or 2 regional university in the South for the past 25 consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report, among numerous other accolades.

Photos courtesy Rollins College Archives
Photos courtesy Rollins College Archives

Firmly Establishing an Identity

In one of his earliest acts on campus, Seymour established a College Planning Committee, chaired by Daniel R. DeNicola, professor of philosophy. After 18 months, the committee produced a 500-page comprehensive plan focusing on institutional mission and structure; divisional objectives; the allocation of funds, physical resources, and personnel; and the 1985 centennial.

Through that lens, Lane writes, “the College began firmly establishing that its identity and future lay with its historical liberal education mission.” Rollins revived its dormant Department of Classics and once again issued diplomas in Latin. To the delight of students, Fox Day returned as well. First celebrated in 1956, the random spring day deemed “too pretty to have class” had been on hiatus since 1970, but Rollins’ new president was more than enthusiastic to revive the tradition in 1979.

During Seymour’s tenure, Rollins considerably raised faculty salaries, rededicated the Walk of Fame, built the Olin Library and Cornell Hall for the Sciences, and renovated Pinehurst Cottage, placing it on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places. Administratively, two of his most important hires were Dean of Admissions David Erdmann and Treasurer Jesse Morgan; together, they helped the College achieve greater financial stability by increasing enrollment, eliminating operating deficits, and overhauling bill collection and investment procedures.

“While the College had historically experienced periods of financial stress, I don’t recall any sleepless nights during his presidency,” says Harold A. Ward III, who served on the board of trustees as a member and chairman while Seymour was in office.

“It was apparent to me from the beginning that working with Thad was going to be both rewarding and a lot of fun. Perhaps it helped that he was part of a family of lawyers, but more likely it was a combination of his remarkable personality and intellect. Another vital part of his presidency was his wife, Polly, who was always involved with the College and the community, and a tremendous support for him and the entire institution.”

Ward described Seymour as a student-centered president adept at winning over constituents from all walks of life: faculty, trustees, alumni, staff, donors, potential donors, and, sometimes, angry members of the community.

“An early challenge,” explains Ward, “was the presentation at the Annie Russell Theatre of the play Equus, which included a scene involving a nude male actor. There were considerable differences of opinion about the appropriate presidential action (or inaction) that should be taken. Thad somehow managed to calm the waters by shifting the focus to the broader issues, such as the desirability of student involvement and freedom of expression. In the end, the play went on, and most of the furor subsided.”

Photo courtesy Rollins College Archives
Photo courtesy Rollins College Archives

Presidential Acclaim

For all his professional and academic talents, Seymour’s most enduring legacy lies squarely in the human domain.

Rollins’ current and 15th president, Grant Cornwell, called him a friend and mentor from the moment they met.

“It was so good to be able to talk about the history of Rollins and current issues with someone who shared a love for the College and profound optimism for its future,” says Cornwell. “I valued Thad as a wise counselor and as one of the kindest, most good-hearted people I have ever known.”

Rita Bornstein, Rollins’ 13th president from 1990 to 2004, always admired how Seymour led by example, whether casually picking up garbage around campus or actively serving the community, most often well outside the media spotlight. When she arrived on campus, Seymour rang chapel bells, posted “Welcome Rita” signs, and threw a party at his home.

“Lion of a man and lion of a president,” says Bornstein. “He thought big, he acted big, and he had big ideas and ambitions. He was ebullient, enthusiastic, kind, generous, fun-loving. He always made me feel optimistic. I think that is true for all who know him. Thad loved ceremony, ritual, history, anniversaries. Often, he engaged the community to participate with the College. He committed himself totally and struggled valiantly to pull and push Rollins to be better and better.”

Former Rollins presidents Jack Critchfield, Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, Rita Bornstein ’04H, and Lewis Duncan at the inauguration of Rollins’ President Grant Cornwell. Photo by Scott Cook.Former Rollins presidents Jack Critchfield, Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, Rita Bornstein ’04H, and Lewis Duncan at the inauguration of Rollins’ President Grant Cornwell. Photo by Scott Cook.

So Much Left to Give

When Seymour stepped down in the spring of 1990, Rollins’ alumni magazine devoted 16 pages to the president they dubbed “A Man for All Reasons.” Taking a cue from Seymour’s self-deprecating wit, the secondary headline deadpanned, “Being Not an Historical Narrative but Rather an Anecdotal Account of Thaddeus Seymour, Some College President!”

Even though his tenure at the top had come to a close, that didn’t stop Seymour from channeling his boundless energy into serving the College and the community in other capacities. From 1992 to 2008, he returned to his academic roots by teaching English part-time.

Not surprisingly, “retirement” also allowed him to develop close ties with the Winter Park Public Library, serving as its chair from 1996 to 1998 and helping Polly with her favorite volunteer project, the library’s New Leaf Bookstore, now named in her honor. In 1997, the chamber of commerce named the couple Winter Park Citizens of the Year.

Seymour’s altruism carried over into several additional passions, including independent transportation for older adults, the Winter Park Health Foundation, and working to save the city’s historic Capen-Showalter House. His longest-serving volunteer work, however, started in the late 1980s when Hal George ’76, founder and master builder for Parkland Homes, approached him about becoming chairman of Habitat for Humanity’s new Winter Park-Maitland chapter. It was a position Seymour would never relinquish.

“Thad was not a figurehead by any means,” says George, who still serves as Habitat’s president. “He was very involved … the best kind of leader you could have. He rolled his sleeves up and come out to the job sites. He’d bring his family out, and Polly would make curtains for our new families at our dedications. Here’s this big guy with a booming voice who never needed a microphone. He really led with enthusiasm and passion, encouraging people all the way. He was the kind of person who made you a better person just being around him.”

George got a kick out of how Seymour, ever the technology buff, maintained the Habitat webpage and taught him how to use an iPhone. “The first thing he did was load a program that made it look like you were pouring a beer.”

Remembering Thad Seymour

Seymour is survived by Polly, his wife of 71 years, and their four children: Liz, Thaddeus Jr., Sam, and Abigail.

The couple’s daughter, Mary Seymour, died in 2015.

A celebration of Seymour’s life will be held at Knowles Chapel on the Rollins College campus at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 3. A reception will follow. For those who are unable to attend, the service will be streamed live on the Office of the President website.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Dr. Seymour’s honor be made to Rollins College (P.O. Box 864168, Orlando, FL 32886-4168) or Habitat for Humanity of Winter Park-Maitland (P.O. Box 1196, Winter Park, FL 32790-1196).

Talk to Hotel Developer – Farmers Market Event Tonight

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

Talk to Hotel Developer – Farmers Market Event Tonight

Talk to Hotel Developer – Farmers Market Event Tonight

This evening at 6:00 to 7:00 pm at the Farmer’s Market, developer Adam Wonus will be available to answer questions about the proposed Henderson Hotel.

 

Opinion by Adam Wonus, Developer of the Henderson Hotel at Lake Killarney

The Henderson Hotel at Lake Killarney takes its name from the Henderson family who owned and operated the Lake Shore Motel on the site next to the proposed Henderson Hotel at Lake Killarney. The proposed hotel site consists of approximately 2.6 acres of lakefront property. As with any new project, there are questions and concerns. Below are answers to some of the questions I have received.

  1. Will the Hotel Provide Lake Access to Its Guests? We will not. We will post signs warning guests to stay out of the lake. The four docks currently on the site will be replaced by a single dock, available for photos and there for people who want to enjoy the view. There will be no watercraft access to the lake from the hotel property.
  2. How will the Hotel Look from 17-92 and Lake Killarney? The Hotel façade on 17-92 is one story. The east and west sides of the hotel step back, increasing in height, to keep the greatest building height in the middle of the property. The hotel is set back at least 90 feet from the lake shoreline and is only two stories in height at the point closest to the shoreline and nearby homes.
  3. What is the size and height of the Hotel and how does that compare to the Alfond? Our architects, Baker Barrios, also designed the Alfond Inn, and we seek to emulate the quality of the Alfond. We have limited the number of rooms to 118, similar to the room count of the Alfond when it was first constructed with 112 rooms. The height is similar to the Alfond (64’-2”) — The Henderson Hotel is 65’-3”. There is an architectural feature designed to give the hotel an historical feel that extends past 65’ as seen in the rendering.
  4. Why are you Vacating a Portion of Fairview Ave? The Killarney neighborhood has a problem with cut-through traffic. We have provided a traffic study from Kimley-Horn, whose engineers have offered several recommendations to help alleviate the increased traffic flow through the community. One suggestion was to create a roundabout at Fairview Ave. blocking access to non-residents drivers. We have offered to pay for this portion of the improvement should the neighbors want to utilize this option. Ultimately, the Killarney neighbors will decide the traffic solution based on what works best for their neighborhood.
  5. What will the impact be to the Lake? The proposed hotel will help clean up Lake Killarney in several important ways. First, we will provide an exfiltration system to treat the storm water. We have committed to the City to install a filter on the existing outfall structure. Presently, untreated storm water is gathered from 17-92 and directed into Lake Killarney. The filter will remove trash and debris that currently flow into the lake from the road. Our engineer and landscape architect will create bio-swales to treat storm water near the lake. We also plan to remove the invasive species along the lakeshore and replant the littoral zone with native species.

A hotel should be more than just a place to lay your head. It should be an important part of the culture of a city and should contribute to the history of the city in a particular period of time. The Henderson Hotel seeks the opportunity to do just that.