Open Letter to Mayor & Commissioners

If there is no parking deficit, why spend tax dollars on parking garage for Rollins?

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

Open Letter to Mayor & Commissioners

Guest Columnist Beth Hall

Dear Mayor and Commissioners:

I am writing to you about the issue of the commission’s handling of public parking in the city versus the public trust. The public trust is perishable. Once lost, it is mighty difficult, if not impossible, to regain.

The issue I have with the handling of parking matters at this time is that the city is feeding the public one story and then taking actions that would indicate that precisely the opposite story is true. The left hand appears not to know what the right hand is doing.

As P & Z and the commission prepare to vote on the proposed changes to our parking codes, it is apparent that you are placing the city on a “parking starvation” diet. Sort of like the traffic diet approach on Denning and what’s proposed on Corrine, for instance.

Because the Kimley Horn study indicates that Winter Park’s “current parking resources are being underutilized” and any parking problem is illusory, the idea is to reduce dramatically the parking requirements we currently insist upon in the city. Because we don’t use what we have, the code won’t require so much parking going forward.

Where offsite parking used to be at a distance of 300 feet, 450 feet is the new standard. Where one space was required for every 250 sq. feet of retail/office space, now it will be one spot for every 350 sq. feet. The first story of a building will need so many spaces but other stories will require fewer.

Yet, at the very same time, the city is allocating millions of dollars to partner with Rollins on a new parking garage at the Lawrence Center. If we have no parking deficit to begin with, per K-H, why the allocation of citizen tax dollars to partner on a five or six level parking garage in which the city has no ownership interest?

If the City intends to build a parking garage in the city with the people’s tax dollars, wouldn’t it be better to build such a structure at the new library and events center? This is what was actually PROMISED in the bond referendum language. This would at least possess superior optics. If we do not need the additional parking anyway, you should put a parking structure where you made a legally binding promise to the citizens to do so.

Another issue I have with changes to the parking code combined with a new garage is that together these will allow for the approval of the Battaglia project with inadequate parking to serve the building. The proposed reduction in parking spots required, based on square footage, combined with a nearby parking garage built at taxpayer expense means Battaglia’s parking woes will be solved on the tax payer’s dime. This will be so although he never, ever shared a single parking spot at the Bank of America garage with the public. We the public may be blind, but we are not stupid.

Rollins can well afford a parking garage. They are not using public tax money to build it. You cannot say the same.

If there is no parking deficit, do not partner with Rollins on a 5 or 6 level garage. If you insist on building a garage, then use the CRA or other city funds from people’s taxes to pay for the library parking garage as promised. Just how many citizens do you suppose really want a huge garage at the Lawrence center site?

If there is a parking deficit, then it is appropriate to either leave the parking code as is or make it even more stringent. Mixed use parking standards can be dealt with at the appropriate time going forward.


Beth Hall

  • author's avatar

    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

  • author's avatar

20 replies
  1. Cigar says:

    Tell us what you want us to think, feel, say, or do in one sentence.

    Then, tell us how your message can fit on a yard sign.

    • Donald Thompson says:

      Parking, like an expanded library, is, eventually going away like the CD player. Visualize just around the corner of time. With a library, every book, both for research and for pleasure reading, will be computerized. Large, five passenger, vehicles, currently used for transporting one or two persons, must fade. Both high cost of fuel and pollution will push us toward “Two-Two’s”; my term for a vehicle designed to carry two people and two briefcases. Call me a visionary or ahead of my time; but this is coming. Now, large libraries and parking garages can, I guess, be converted into other uses; but not efficiently. My advice: look to the future; do not let the past obstruct your view.

      • NIMBY and DT Will 'Splain says:

        D. Thompson & NIMBY-
        You’re right. Parking is an antiquated idea. So tell us all again why the city is going to hand over $2-3 million for a couple decks in a Rollins garage the city will never own? That’s a lot of coin for parking no one needs any more.

  2. Can U Say Rubber Stamp says:

    Order the rubber stamp. No need for future P & Z meetings. Lack of parking was the only
    reason anything was ever denied. New parking rules means everything gets approved.


  3. NIMBY-10stepper says:

    Uber is a factor nowadays. More and more small towns are enticing small infill projects this way.

    1/250 across the board is high for anything except peak tourist and shopping seasons around Christmas.

  4. Hitchhiking Anyone? says:

    First they told us that parking garages would solve our parking problems. Then they told us valet parking would. Then they told us walking and biking would. Then they told us Sunrail would. Then they told us Uber would. Then they told us Amazon Prime would. Then they told us small driverless cars would.

    Having exhausted their finger pointing litany, and realizing residents aren’t as dumb as we used to be, they are starting the cycle all over again with “parking garage.” If your kids don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, encourage them to be parking garage developers. Somehow I think there will always be work for them in Winter Park.

    Has anyone noticed it’s not parking that’s the problem? It’s the lies politicians tell us that is.

  5. FYD says:

    Does anyone besides me wonder if we keep changing the character of Winter Park… and make it look like say Baldwin or Uptown Altamonte …if people will stop driving here to shop/date night etc ?? i.e. when the quaintness is gone?

  6. Henry Higgins says:

    I think they’ve got it ! I think they’ve got it !

    In their infinite wisdom the Commission has decided downtown WP has too many parking spaces available. They change the code to reduce parking requirements.
    Then to replace this parking that they’ve just gotten rid of they pay 2-3 MILLION dollars so they can rent the parking spots they’ve eliminated in a far off Rollins parking garage. Brain scans for all commissioner who vote to do this.

    • Shari Yudenfreund-Sujka says:

      I have walked Park Avenue and noticed the irregularity in the parking spaces
      with regards to how much distance is left between each vehicle. I have suggested before, but it has fallen on deaf ears, that if the city would put just vertical lines from the sidewalk denoting the outline of the parking space, there could be 20-40 more spaces on Park Avenue without doing much except using a little bit of white paint or white bricks.
      There is a lot that could be done, but there is an agenda that someone has and no one seems to be able to stop it.

      • Pitt Warner says:

        I suggested this idea several times. Last time I asked I was told by a city employee that it seems no matter the time or era, one commissioner is always opposed to it and fights it on the “aesthetics”. Don’t know who the person is or if the employee was making up something to get rid of me, but that’s what I was told.

    • Junk Yard Dog says:

      A couple pieces of chalk to solve the problem when they’ve got a chance to pay their cronies millions of dollars for a new parking garage?

      Are you kidding?

      They’re not going to do that.

      They have a parking garage quota. Have to build a new one every so often whether they need it or not.

      If it doesn’t look like there is a parking space shortage to justify a new garage, they just haul in a bunch of extra cars from the junk yard and park them on the street.

  7. Fee in lieu Fiasco says:

    “Fee in lieu” of providing parking for new development projects is the real TROPHY in this new parking code for developers. (See Section 5 of the proposed ordinance.)

    The city has now dropped even the pretense of requiring that parking be provided by the developer to accommodate the parking demand of any new project.

    From now on all the developer will have to do is write a check. Voila! He has met the new Winter Park code for parking.

    Speak up people! The commission is vaporizing downtown parking right in front of you.

  8. The Future is All Around Us says:

    Look no further than South Florida. New condo projects are being planned and built with NO parking garages. What is critical in design is the larger, enhanced drop-off zones for residents and guests using Uber or Lyft. Those projects with planned garages are being designing with flat, entirely level concrete slabs, so in the future they too can be walled in and converted to units. Our base assumptions are changing fast. Will WP take heed?

  9. John Halloran says:

    If the city is fat enough with cash to build a garage for Rollins then they should get to work building garages at these two locations as opposed to spending 37 million dollars on the “The Canopy” that will have NO parking…. Hmmm reminds me of the Orlando Performing Arts Center… NO parking at that facility. Amazing

    When the city starts to talk about limiting the amount of restaurants that can be on Park Avenue because of the lack of parking it’s the beginning of the end… limiting commerce because you can’t provide adequate parking… just plain stupid.

  10. A Girl's Best Friend says:

    Diamond store on Park Avenue forever just moved to Altamonte Springs.

    When people can sell more jewelry in Altamonte Springs than on Park Avenue you know Winter Park is in decline.

    Winter Park is turning into tacos and tequila.

    • HJK says:

      Girls Best Friend has a point about the ridiculous number of Mexican joints we have now…… how they will all stay in business will be no small miracle.

      Of real concern though is that Winter Park is turning into the ever-expanding “University of Rollins”…..

      Unbelievable we would pay for their garage! They are cash flush and we are going to subsidize???


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