Parks & Rec Tells City: Land Should Not Be Sold

Rare Opportunity to Add to MLK Park

Parks & Rec Tells City: Land Should Not Be Sold

A May 30 letter from Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Chair Carl E. Creasman, who wrote on behalf of all the board members, makes an eloquent plea to the Mayor and Commissioners not to sell the bowling alley property at 1111 W. Fairbanks.

Parks & Rec Surprised

The letter states that the proposed sale of the property, which is adjacent to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, came as a surprise to the Parks & Rec Board at their May 24 meeting.

“We write to you now to urge the City Commission to reopen this decision for review,” states the letter. “The MLK Master Planning process provides the perfect opportunity to determine the best usage of that land.”

The letter continued, “Even if the property were merely turned into expanded parking and beautification for the entrance to the city along Fairbanks, that would be a better use of the land than selling the property.”

Click here to read the entire letter.

Weldon Responds

Commissioner Peter Weldon responded to Creasman in a post on his Winter Park Perspective blog. In an apparent effort to reassure Creasman, Weldon wrote, “The vote to put the bowling alley up for sale is not the same as voting to sell the property.”

Weldon went on to explain, “The bowling alley was purchased from Rollins in 2016 based on being able to provide greater right of way on Fairbanks and, potentially, finding a use as incremental park space. In other words, the purchase decision was opportunistic, not strategic.”

To see the entire content of Commissioner Weldon’s response, click here.

Commission Meets June 12

Further discussion of the final disposition of this property will likely occur at the June 12 Commission Meeting. Stay tuned.

  • 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.

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14 replies
  1. CJ Williams says:

    It’s becoming incresingly clear, even to the casual WP observer–citizens have an issue here. Don’t mess with our parks/greenspace.

    The City Commission should:
    1. Slow down – defer the sale of the bowling alley property. There is absolutely no reason to rush this. None. Nada.
    2. Listen to your voters-present them w a comprehensive parks masterplan-ask questions-listen some more. This is stewardship.
    3. Bonus Feature: Trust. Earn it. Most Central Floidians would not put the words “parking garage” and “park” in the same sentence much less the same real estate footprint. Yet MLK Park is soon to witness a 2 (maybe 3) story parking garage on the north end. Even more reason to retain the bowling alley parcel on the south. Trust? We have a ways to go. Show me.

  2. It's a Park says:

    That section of Fairbanks needs a park. There aren’t any other parks along there. Why is Weldon trying to sell our park?

    It’s not “the bowling alley property.” It’s our park now. It used to have a bowling alley on it but doesn’t any more. It’s a park. Might not be officially. But drive by there and see it with your own eyes. It’s a park!

    Weldon and the other commissioners should keep their hands off our park.

  3. Pitt Warner says:

    As a taxpayer, I don’t want $2.9 Million used for a park next to a road that carries 29,000 cars a day. Fumes, noise, traffic are not compatible with park space. There will have to be a buffer and that will only increase the cost. Let’s concentrate on making MLK Park better. There are currently 11 parks in WP plus another dozen small or mini parks.

    • Pitt's Wrong Again says:

      If you’re supporting $30 million for a library in a park, it’s inconsistent to sell a piece of the same park. Don’t you want any parks? And let’s face it. It already is part of the park for all intents and purposes. So what you are really suggesting is selling park land for development purposes. Besides, if it’s $2.9 million now, it could go up in value, so why sell it now?

      You’ve obviously never been out of Winter Park. You should really broaden your horizons. Chicago for example. Lake Shore Drive, many more lanes and much more traffic than Fairbanks will ever have. Look at how nice the park works there. Can you imagine how ugly it would look without the park? Why it would look just like Fairbanks!

  4. Exclusive Analysis says:

    The three commissioners who voted 6/12/17 to ignore the will of the people and quickly sell the future park land on Fairbanks, did so for one reason: Redevelopment.

    They answer to a “Master Plan” that is separate and distinct from the MLK Park Master Plan. Their plan is Build. Build. Build.

    If it’s a nice old house,
    Tear it down and build another bigger one,

    If it’s a needed parking lot,
    Build a multi story office building on it,

    If it’s future park land,
    Sell it to someone who will build on it

    If it’s a perfectly good library,
    Move out and build another in MLK Park

    That’s what’s behind the the pretense of words like “inappropriate location for a park,” “we support parks,” and “too expensive.”

    Funny how, to them, writing a check at taxpayer expense for $30 million to build a 50,000 sq. ft. white elephant of building on MLK Park land is neither an inappropriate location, unsupportive of parks or too expensive. Yet paying NOTHING – that’s right NOTHING (the Fairbanks land had already been purchased by the City) for a measly acre and a half on Fairbanks is to them all of those things.

    Translation: Anytime these three say anything to you, everyone reading this should hear only the following words, “Look, we will do whatever we want because we won the election. If you don’t like it, you run for office or find someone who will. And if you win you can make the decisions. Until then, none of us [cares] what you think, what you want, or what is good for the residents, your kids, or your grandkids. We want to build. Parks don’t make money for us or our buddies. Building does. Got it? Or is that too hard for you to understand, idiot?”

    Because every time, that’s exactly what they mean, no matter what they say.

    • Cigar says:

      Leary may be in the process of painting himself into a corner for his 2018 mayoral campaign, with his most recent gratuitous dig at the park expanders this week. His opponent, whoever that may be, will have plenty of hay to make this coming campaign season.

      “With Leary, No Park Is Safe” is a possible theme, with plenty of illustrations to back up the claim.

      By then, construction will likely have begun on the library, at a park location never agreed to by the voters. And the park in waiting city lot, on Fairbanks, could have a new commercial building on it by then.

      An aggressive opponent would put Leary on the defensive, demanding Leary tell the voters which parks he would never build on in a third term.

      For a little over an acre on Fairbanks once all the bids come in, Leary is going to have to ask himself if any of them is worth risking his usual slim margin of victory. One park land grab may be excused by voters. Two or more becomes a pattern. That close to the park and already in the city’s possession, voters will likely consider it park land. And all an enterprising opponent would have to do is connect the dots in voters minds to paint in their imaginations a horrifying picture of what Leary might do to say, Central Park or the West Meadow if elected to a third term.

      Also worth noting, in 2018 Leary won’t have the wind at his back of a presidential primary election, like he did with the library bond vote. He will be out there on a ballot with possibly nothing other than the mayoral contest. Which means the mayoral election will also effectively be the referendum voters never had on the MLK Park location, since Leary refused to allow it on the ballot.

      An acre is not a lot of land, but because the voters don’t see it that way, Leary doesn’t appear to be in a position to have the luxury of gambling even one vote if he expects to win in 2018. We’ll see what happens during the next 45 days.

      • Pitt Warner says:

        After the recent shooting in Alexandria most people said there is a ugly tone to comments and political rivalries in US that have contributed to violence. Why does this site allow anonymous allegations that do nothing positive towards advancing local political discussion? Requiring a name would keep the fatuous comments, and hopefully the off-kilter types in their place. Don’t tell me “it can’t happen here”. How about an adult takes charge of this mess before it’s too late.

        • Pop Psyche says:

          The real nutcases are the ones who want to be famous. They want everyone to know their name. They can’t rest a day without posting their real name on a local news site for all to see. Sometimes they post their own real name two or three times in the same day! Notice the hostility in their words. Notice how they vilify anyone who disagrees with them. They become very threatened when someone voices an opinion not their own. Because it is ideas they fear, they attempt to silence all those having a contrary opinion.

          Their mantra is “Make them identify themselves!”

          They are paranoid. They see violence where none exists, because it is always on their mind, real or imaginary. They even fear paper signs in peoples’ yards. The words “Expand MLK Park” triggers them to post frivolous charges against their fellow citizens, accusing them of violent intent.

          They attempt to link civil public discourse with the concept of mass violence in the minds of their audience. They become so desperate in their attempts to convince sane people of their opinion that they even try to use sensational media stories to fan the flames of fear in their fellow citizens.

          They are underneath it all, sad, troubled creatures, for whom we should all pray. And pray that they never hold a position of public influence on any board in Winter Park, or if they are already on one, to resign, and let a sane person take their place. But since they will never see themselves in this description – they are that far gone – perhaps the mayor should ask them to resign from their board if they are on one aleady.

          • Pitt Warner says:

            Nobody would be so disrespectful towards fellow citizens if they had to post their name. Meanwhile, the funders of this site giggle with glee. It’s truly sick.

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