Rollins Panel on WP Future Draws Capacity Crowd

Rollins Panel on WP Future Draws Capacity Crowd

A standing-room-only crowd filled Rollins’ Suntrust Auditorium last night as panelists engaged the audience in a lively discussion about Winter Park’s future.

An audience of Winter Park residents and Rollins students joined panelists, former Commissioner Pam Peters, Entrepreneur Steve Goldman, Architect Phil Kean and Mayor Steve Leary, to explore how our city will navigate the opportunities and the issues facing it now and in the years to come.

Videos are in two parts, below, and last about an hour total.

Parking Code Gets the Green Light

Applies to Park Ave. CBD, New England Ave. in Hannibal Square & Orange Ave. Corridor

Parking Code Gets the Green Light

Commissioners voted Monday, Oct. 22, to approve the revised parking code proposed by the City Planning Department on the first reading. The second and final reading is scheduled for the November 12 meeting.

Code revisions apply specifically to the Central Business District (CBD) along the Park Avenue corridor, the New England Avenue commercial portion of the Hannibal Square neighborhood and the Orange Avenue corridor. The revised codes are the culmination of more than a year’s work by parking consultant Kimley-Horn.

No ‘Fee-in-Lieu’

Originally, the revised ordinance contained six elements. Before their discussion commenced, however, Commissioners excluded the element that would have created a fee-in-lieu of parking, whereby a property owner could pay for required parking within a city-owned parking facility without actually having to provide dedicated parking spaces at their property. This has the effect of leveling the playing field, eliminating any advantage wealthier developers might have over less wealthy ones.

Summary of Major Changes

Under the new ordinance, anyone converting retail or office space to restaurant use in any of these areas, including Park Avenue, must provide the increased parking required for restaurant use.

The ordinance would change the distance permitted for off-site parking from 300 feet to 750 feet. To walk 750 feet takes about five minutes.

The ordinance provides for the use of the Urban Land Institute’s Shared Parking analysis as a reference for determining when and how shared parking will be permitted.

Parking requirements for new retail and general office space will change from four spaces per 1,000 square feet to three spaces per 1,000 square feet.

Finally, parking requirements for large office buildings will be four spaces per 1,000 square feet for the first 20,000 square feet of the building, then will transition to three spaces per 1,000 square feet for all floor area in excess of 20,000 square feet.

‘Grandfather’ Clause

The ordinance will include a “vesting provision,” so that anyone already in the process of designing a project who submits site plans and/or floor plans for City approval by the date of adoption of the ordinance can continue under the current parking code, provided they apply for a building permit by Dec. 31, 2018, and begin construction by March 1, 2019.

We Can’t Hear You!

Open Letter to the City of Winter Park

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

We Can’t Hear You!

Guest Columnist Jim Fitch

The September 24 Winter Park Commission meeting was an embarrassment to the City of Winter Park. Taxpayers, who fund all City operations one way or another, attend these meetings in order to be informed. The City needs to be more respectful of citizens whose taxes keep the City running and whose votes elect the Commission.

Hearing & Seeing = Believing

It is very difficult for those of us who regularly attend the twice-monthly Commission meetings to hear, to see or to understand the proceedings. It is hard to believe this is intentional – even when controversial topics like The Canopy are being discussed.

Full Names, Please

City staff making presentations frequently fail to state their full names and positions. They are known to the Commission (e.g., “Troy”), but there is often a failure to inform the audience. Most presenters address their remarks to the Commissioners and not to the public.

Don’t Ignore the Microphones

The Mayor mumbles, the City Manager mumbles and Commissioners Seidel and Cooper do not speak into their microphones. The result is that the audience must strain to hear the discussion – and is completely left out of the side banter between Mayor Leary and Commissioner Sprinkel. Only Commissioners Sprinkel and Weldon speak clearly enough to be understood.

Make the Visuals Visible

Even though the Commissioners have laptops and document packets in front of them, they sometimes seem ill-informed about what is going on. Document screen shots projected for the public are, more often than not, too small to be legible. No laser pointers are used – Mayor Leary says it would only cover one of the two screens.

If the presenter’s lectern were placed in the center of the room in front of the dais, the presenter could use a laser pointer on both screens.

Appoint a ‘Listener’

The City should also place a listener at the back of the chamber to monitor audio levels and alert the Commissioners and presenters when their remarks cannot be heard. Presenters and Commissioners alike should pay attention to the public when people in the audience signal that they cannot hear.

We Need New Mikes

The City should invest in higher quality wide angle microphones or individual lavalier microphones, rather than the uni-directional ones now in use, so that the official discussion, as well as the side banter, is clearly audible to the audience.

If It’s a Public Meeting, Citizens Deserve to Be Able to Hear & See
Not only are the current practices disrespectful to the citizens of Winter Park, they are a violation of the Sunshine Law. This is an easy fix – please do something to correct this situation.

WP Sinkhole Back in the News

WP Sinkhole Back in the News

Winter Park’s infamous 1981 sinkhole is gobbling up attention in the latest debate over the city’s planned library and civic center.

City commissioners Monday will decide if they share an advisory board’s concerns that the sinkhole – now called Lake Rose – will have to play a major role in handling stormwater from the site.

Stormwater retention was one of two major issues that gave the planning and zoning board pause last week in considering the proposed library plan. Parking was the board’s other stumbling block.

City staff asked the advisory board to make a final decision about the complete site plan, but the board gave it only preliminary approval and added two conditions. First, it wanted more detailed information about the stormwater plan once the St. Johns River Water Management District approves it, a process that could take another three weeks. Second, it wanted city commissioners to explore finding 36 more parking spaces, a move that could result in the demolition of the Lake Island Hall recreation building.

No matter how the advisory board voted, city staff said later in the meeting, the city commission this Monday could override that recommendation and give the project final approval.

At the heart of the board’s concerns is the city’s plan to run a pipeline from Lake Mendsen, which would be next to the new buildings, to Lake Rose. The idea is to allow excess water from the larger lake to drain into Lake Rose during hurricanes and heavy rains.

Board member Bob Hahn pushed for the planning board’s two conditions, saying he needed to see additional study of the water management issue to make sure the idea would work. “I’m comfortable with moving the project through in the preliminary stage, but having it come back [to us} in the final stage.”

Like other board members, he expressed support for the new library but was concerned that unanswered questions remained.

“I, too, feel we’re going too fast,” Chairman Ross Johnston said. “There’s a lot that has been predetermined, much more than is normal for a planning and zoning meeting,”
Public Works Director Troy Attaway said the pipeline would let the two lakes “function together as basically one lake” and increase its capacity to handle storm water. Attaway predicted that the connection also would help alleviate historical flooding along Denning Drive during rain storms.

Lake Rose is named after Mae Rose Williams, whose house fell into the sinkhole in May of 1981. Her heirs still own a portion of the property, as do the city and another property owner. Cheryl Thompson, her granddaughter, objected to the city’s stormwater plan during public comment, citing existing overflow problems. Resident Kim Allen wrote the city that the pipeline may not relieve Lake Mendsen’s current lack of room for stormwater. The city also should be concerned about flushing polluted stormwater down drain wells into the aquifer, she said.

Other residents noted that the plan does not comply with the language of the $30 million bond referendum, which called for a parking garage. City code requires 146 parking spaces for buildings the size of the proposed library and civic center. The city would provide 213 spaces in parking lots, plus 24 parallel parking spots on Harper Street. City Planning Manager Jeff Briggs said the city is looking into tearing down the recreation building at Lake Island to add even more parking places, but no decision has been made. The building is “not well utilized,” he said.

The project will change the look of the park in many ways. In addition to the two new modern structures that will house the library and civic center, the site will lose 63 protected trees, including most of the live oaks on the property. In the mid-1900s, the site was a mucky wetland that gradually was filled in around the edges with construction debris.

The Time for Public Input is ALWAYS!

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

The Time for Public Input is ALWAYS!

Randy Knight, City Manager of Winter Park

The city always asks for public input and considers this input vital to our city governance. Winter Park operates under a representative form of government. This means we, as citizens, elect representatives to run the city, pass laws and regulations, address development requests, and plan for the future of our city. As part of that process the city ALWAYS asks for community input and often times it provides opportunities for that input multiple times before final decisions are made.

When the question arises, “has anyone asked you…” about items such as the Lawrence Center Garage, parking or mixed use, the answer is, “Yes, the city has asked or will ask as part of the process.”

For the proposed Lawrence Center Parking Garage, a citywide notice was mailed to all city households at the beginning of August asking interested residents and stakeholders to attend and share their input at upcoming meetings. The notice was also posted on cityofwinterpark.org/citywide. The dates for public input are Tuesday, September 11, for the Planning & Zoning Board and Monday, September 24, for the City Commission meeting. Both meetings are held in Commission Chambers located on the second floor of City Hall.

For the proposed parking code changes, a community input meeting was held in July, multiple summits were held in 2017, and the City Commission was provided an update at their March 2018 meeting. These meetings were noticed by various means. Subscribers to citEnews were emailed a notice. The meetings were posted online with related reports posted on cityofwinterpark.org/parking, postcards were mailed to 274 property owners in the corridors directly impacted, and advertisements were placed in the newspaper. If an ordinance modifying the parking code moves forward for City Commission consideration, those meetings will be advertised and public input taken in public hearings at the Planning & Zoning Board and at two separate City Commission meetings.

The Orange Avenue pilot project for mixed use was just suggested at the July 10 Commission work session. This will be a multi-month study/process and public input will be solicited throughout that process. This project was considered by your elected representatives over Aloma Avenue, West Fairbanks Avenue and Lee Road because there are three major properties along that corridor that have expressed interest in redevelopment over the next 24 months. That is not the case for the other corridors.

We understand what a challenge it can be in our busy lives to keep up with the various issues being addressed by the city and that is why we use multiple methods to get the word out. The best ways to stay informed for these types of projects are to subscribe to the citEnews emails at cityofwinterpark.org/citEnews or periodically visit the city’s official website for upcoming board & public meetings at cityofwinterpark.org/bpm.

The Time for Public Input is NOW!

We Want a Seat at the Table

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

The Time for Public Input is NOW!

Guest Columnist Sally Flynn

The city is moving very aggressively on several major projects that have the potential to change the face of our city.

Lawrence Center Garage

First up is the expansion of the Rollins College Lawrence Center at 200 E. New England Ave., with possible city participation in the associated parking garage.

Kimley-Horn Parking Study

Second is a parking study by consultants Kimley-Horn which, if adopted, will change our parking codes to allow construction of larger buildings with less parking.

Mixed Use Development

Third is the development of standards for Mixed Use Development. The city is considering using the Orange Avenue corridor as a “test case” for mixed use, which would involve what’s called Traffic Oriented Density. Developers would be able to build larger buildings with a mix of commercial, residential and office uses. The addition of a new Sunrail stop is contemplated for the area.

We Should Be Talking – Now!

All three subjects should be the subject of intense conversation with Winter Park residents — Right Now.

Ask Yourself This

Has anyone asked you what you think about a six-level garage at the Lawrence Center?

Has anyone asked you what you think about changing our parking code to allow bigger buildings and less parking?

Has anyone asked you to weigh in on using Orange Avenue as a pilot project for mixed use?

Has anyone asked you whether you would prefer instead to see Aloma, West Fairbanks or Lee Road as the pilot project for mixed use master planning?

It’s our money, why aren’t they asking you/me/us?

We Deserve a Seat at the Table

The place to begin is to begin by asking for a seat at the table. Several friends and I will be writing to the commission asking for the opportunity for public input, and for the City to start the discussions over again from the beginning – and this time, they include us.

Join Us

We invite you to join us by writing to mayorandcommissioners@cityofwinterpark.org and letting them know you want to be included in plans for the future of our city.

WP History Museum Launches Hotel Exhibit

WP History Museum Launches Hotel Exhibit

“Wish You Were Here: Hotels & Motels of Winter Park”

Mark your calendar – Thursday, June 7, 5:00 to 8:00 pm – The Winter Park History Museum will open its new exhibit, “Wish You Were Here: The Hotels and Motels of Winter Park.” This is a family friendly event that will feature food, friends and the music of Frank Sinatra.

Hotels and Rollins Built Winter Park

The vision Loring Chase and Oliver Chapman had for Winter Park consisted of two key elements. One was Rollins, established 1885, and the other was luxury hotels that would appeal to the wealthy ‘carriage trade’ from the northeast. To that end, they set aside three elevated five-acre lakefront lots for the large luxury hotels that became the Virginia Inn, the Seminole Hotel and the Alabama.

Every Hotel Lobby Had a Land Sales Office

The purpose of the hotels was to appeal to the type of guest who was wealthy enough to invest in the town and intellectually liberal enough to create a community that would be attractive to the academics who would create Rollins.

The lobby of every luxury hotel featured a land sales office offering land for homesteads, commercial development and citrus production. Tours of citrus groves were a central feature of the sales presentations.

Hotels at Center of Community Life

As time passed, Winter Park became more established and the large hotels became centers of local community activity. Residents could buy memberships to use the hotels’ recreational facilities. The hotels provided a place for larger business and social events. It is fitting that Rollins has come full circle with the Alfond Inn, which serves as a watering hole for locals and as the repository for the Alfond family’s extensive collection of contemporary art – in addition to accommodating visitors from around the world.

Motels and Boarding Houses

The show will include a study of smaller boarding houses and hotels that accommodated the working class tourists and staff who traveled with the wealthy luxury hotel patrons. There will also be a section devoted to the classic Florida motels that grew up around Lake Kilarney and 17-92, which became popular tourist destinations in the 1940s.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.wphistory.org

or call 407-647-2330.

Straw Wars Comes to Winter Park

Let This Be the Last Straw!

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

Straw Wars Comes to Winter Park

Guest Columnists Dr. Leslie Poole and Charley Williams

Think globally, act locally. So, Winter Park, for the moment, Think Locally.

A Garbage Patch the Size of Texas

You may have been reading about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch–an area the size of Texas (or France, your choice). It’s located between California and Hawaii and contains an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. This is the planet’s largest mass of plastic. The crisis is reflected in the photos you see of dying marine life – birds, sea turtles, whales and sharks, trapped in this plastic grip of death. They ingest tiny pieces of plastic that interfere with their digestive systems. Humans are not exempt. Scientists are finding plastic microfibers in the very water we drink.

Plastic Straws – One Culprit

Surprisingly those thin plastic straws in bars and restaurants – through which we sip without giving it a second thought — play a culpable role. And it’s something we can control.

According to the U.S. National Park Service, Americans use 500 million straws a day. Most never make it to the recycling bin.

WP Is Making Progress

Don’t get us wrong — Winter Park is making progress in fighting the plastic plague. Barnies is eliminating styrofoam carryout containers in favor of cardboard. Starbucks has devised a sippy-cup container with a wider mouth for its cold drinks, which negates the need for a straw. Many Winter Park establishments have a policy that if you bring your own reusable container – like a coffee cup — they will give you a discount. That’s progress. Be sure and thank them.

But at countless other establishments, plastic straws come with the territory. It’s a habit.

Just Say No

What to do? Change that habit! We have the power. It’s simple. Just say “No”.

Instruct the bartender or server not to bring you a straw and suggest the establishment abandon the use of plastic straws altogether. You have to do it up front when you sit down or are placing your order. Once that straw goes into the glass or is brought to the table, even if it is wrapped, it goes straight from the table into the trash. Nothing gained.

Leave It to Beaver?

The global good news: This year, scientists are prepared to launch the world’s first machine to clean up this mess. It was designed by a teenager no less. More at www.theoceancleanup.com

All Boats Rise on this Tide

Kudos to those Winter Park businesses which are leading the way. If you have new information or an experience, please share with the Voice. We’d all like to know. Awareness is the brightest path to long-term solutions.

Lead by example, learn by observing. All boats rise on this tide.

Read more:
National Geographic “Straw Wars: The Fight to Rid the Oceans of Discarded Plastic” (April 12, 2017; updated February 23, 2018)
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/plastic-straws-ocean-trash-environment/

U.K. takes a leadership role: “The Queen Declares War on Plastic….”
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/11/queen-declares-war-plastic-david-attenborough-documentary/amp/

Dr. Leslie Poole is assistant professor of environmental studies at Rollins College

Charley Williams is past president, League of Women Voters, Orange County

Lurline Fletcher - October 4, 1943 – March 24, 2018

Winter Park Has Lost a Treasure

Lurline Fletcher – October 4, 1943 – March 24, 2018

Winter Park lost one of its own when Lurline Daniels Fletcher passed away the night of Saturday, March 24, 2018. Ms. Fletcher, who died of natural causes, was surrounded by her family. She was 74.

Born October 4, 1943, to Hurley Daniels and Hattie Magee Daniels in Foxworth, Mississippi, Lurline moved with her family to Winter Park at the age of five. She was married to Robert Lloyd Fletcher, who died in 1978. She is survived by two sisters, Arzolia MacDonald and Hurley Mae Donaldson and a brother-in-law, James Donaldson. A step brother, Arthur Hall, predeceased her.

Lurline is also survived by three children, Kem Fletcher Jones, Nanette Walthour and Vanallen Berry. She also had nine grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

Lurline worked for many years at the Welbourne Avenue Nursery and Kindergarten as a teacher’s aide. She then attended nursing school, which she completed in the late 1970s, and subsequently went to work the Central Florida Kidney Center as a transporter.

Lurline was an active member of Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church for more than 50 years. She loved to travel and particularly enjoyed cruises. She traveled to Hawaii and the Caribbean, among many other places. Lurline’s daughter Nanette said, “After her children were grown, her life consisted of helping others and traveling.”

Her children describe her as a wicked, exacting card player. “She loved to play cards,” said daughter Kem. “She always knew every card that had been played, and she never let us get away with anything.”

Most Winter Parkers will remember Lurline as a strong voice at City Hall, speaking out for the preservation of the character of Winter Park’s West Side. “Commission meetings will never be the same,” said Sally Flynn. “There never will be another Lurline Fletcher.”

Charley Williams observed that when Lurline was asked to quiet down, she just spoke louder. “I hope Winter Parkers will honor Lurline’s memory by always showing up, like she did,” said Williams, “wearing shades and their very best hat.”

Services will be held Monday, April 2, at 11:00 a.m. at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church at the corner of Pennsylvania and Lyman. The service will be conducted by Pastor Weaver Blondin. There will be a viewing at the church from 9:00 until 10:30 a.m. Lurline will be laid to rest at Washington Park Cemetery on Brewton Blvd. in Orlando. Tillman Funeral Home, 620 E. York St., Monticello FL 32344, is handling arrangements.

When asked for a word that described Lurline’s life, her children responded.
Kem: “Tenacity”
Nanette: “Family”
Vanallen: “Loving and caring”

Lurline’s legacy of civic engagement is as much a hallmark of Winter Park as are the live oaks that shelter the city she loved.

Local Mayors Fight for Home Rule

Have Our Elected Reps in Tallahassee Gone Off the Rails?

Local Mayors Fight for Home Rule

There is a group of bills making its way through the Florida legislature that would take away Home Rule from local governments and concentrate it at the state level. Leaders in Florida’s 410 municipalities and 67 counties are united in their opposition to the state legislature’s “one size fits all” approach to regulation of such things as short-term vacation rentals, Community Redevelopment Agencies and. . . trees? That’s right: trees.

Maitland Mayor Dale McDonald and Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole attended the February 12 Commission meeting to show their solidarity with Winter Park and to urge all residents to demand that our representatives in Tallahassee oppose legislation that will preempt home rule.

Maitland Mayor Deplores ‘Arrogance’ of Elected State Reps

Speaking before the Commission, Mayor McDonald expressed his disillusionment with the “condescending arrogance” of our elected State representatives, “people we’ve known well – elected officials and legislators . . . who can pretend to be acting in your best interests, but who are not . . . .”

“The fear of leadership, the adversarial tones of the last couple of sessions, have been palpable,” said McDonald. “They will all remark on that. Our representatives in Tallahassee will tell you, ’Sorry, we can’t do anything, it’s the leadership. To get something, we’ve got to go along.’”

Whose Money Buys the Message?

McDonald noted, “It’s a whole lot easier to persuade one-hundred-odd legislators than it is 400 cities and 67 counties. But that’s their job. It’s not their job to make it easier for them to get paid – by the PACs and campaign contributions and so forth.” (The reader is encouraged to view Mayor McDonald’s complete remarks.)

A letter to Winter Park citizens from City Manager Randy Knight describes three bills that are particularly problematic.

Short-term Rentals

HB 773 prohibits cities from establishing ordinances specific to short-term vacation rentals. Online vacation rental sites like VRBO and Airbnb have generated brisk business in short-term, hotel-like rentals in residential neighborhoods. Problems include inadequate parking, noise and the presence of strangers in neighborhoods. Passage of HB 773 would prevent the City from locally regulating these businesses.

Community Redevelopment Agencies – CRAs

HB 17 and SB 432 would allow a CRA to be phased out if it is not reauthorized by a super majority vote of the body that created it. Winter Park’s CRA was created in the mid-90s and has been the catalyst for the renovation of the Hannibal Square commercial area, the Park Avenue street scape, construction of the Winter Park Community Center, numerous affordable housing and housing rehab projects and after-school programs.

Tree Trimming

With a school system that has dropped to 28th position nationally, according to Education Week, aging infrastructure and a fragile, over-taxed supply of fresh water, one would think our elected representatives in Tallahassee could find a better way to spend their time than developing tree-trimming regulations for cities like Winter Park and Eatonville.

Call to Action — It’s Not Too Late

Right Now — Email or phone your senators and representatives and tell them to oppose these bills and any others that prevent local government from maintaining the high standards that sustain the charm and character of Winter Park. Note — phone calls work as well as emails. They are recorded and they carry a lot of weight.

The vote is Thursday, Feb. 22, so there’s not a lot of time. It only takes a minute to Act Now. It’s time for Tallahassee to get back on track.

Senator Linda Stewart
stewart.linda.web@flsenate.gov
407-893-2422

Representative Mike Miller
mike.miller@myfloridahouse.gov
407-245-0588

Representative Robert “Bob” Cortes
bob.cortes@myfloridahouse.gov
407-262-7420

For complete lists:
FL Senate: <flsenate.gov/Senators/>
FL House of Representatives: flhouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx