Parks Protected in Perpetuity

Citizen Activists Made Sure 122 Acres of Parkland Remains Green

Parks Protected in Perpetuity

by Anne Mooney / January 10, 2020

In an economic climate in which developers threaten to gobble up every square inch of open land, a hearty band of Winter Parkers deserves our gratitude for making sure our largest parks are protected from development and will remain forever green.

Six Winter Park citizens – Michael Poole, Charley Williams, Peter Gottfried, Marty Sullivan, Forest Michael and Kim Allen – have worked tirelessly since May of 2016 to make sure the city government took the necessary steps to preserve five of our largest parks for “outdoor recreation in perpetuity.”

The five parks – Phelps Park, Lake Baldwin Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, the Community Center swimming pool and Temple Trail – had received money from the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP). This program provides state funds to municipal and county governments to acquire or develop lands for public outdoor recreation.

The FRDAP grant comes with a condition. For each park receiving a grant, a deed restriction for the park must be filed with the Orange County government pledging that the site is dedicated to “outdoor recreation in perpetuity.”  Over the years, beginning in 1974 with Lake Baldwin Park (a/k/a Dog Park), money was dispersed and work was done, but the deed restrictions fell through the cracks, leaving open the door to disposal and/or development of some 122 acres of parkland.

When the citizen group learned in 2016 that deed restrictions and site dedications had not been filed for these parks, they brought the matter to the attention of the City and of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

The happy ending to this story is that, after three and a half years of phone calls, emails, letters and meetings, Kim Allen received notification from the FDEP that the deeds were filed and the parks protected.

The email read: “Good Morning . . . and Happy New Year! I am . . . sending this email to let you know that the City of Winter Park recorded the following Notices of Limitation of Use – Site Dedications, for the projects listed below [i.e., the five parks], with the Orange County Clerk of Courts office. Thank you for your continued patience working with our team and the city to secure these recordings.” The email was signed by Angela Bright, Community Assistance Consultant, Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Credit goes to Brenda Moody of the Winter Park Public Works Department, who performed the exacting task of making sure the paperwork was properly completed and filed with the county and state agencies.

This kind of behind-the-scenes dedication and dogged determination by citizens who are just like everyone else – with jobs and families and busy lives – is what makes Winter Park such a special place to live. The same tactics that worked for John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt to establish the national park system worked for our very own neighbors. We should be both proud and grateful.

 

  • 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

21 replies
  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice job to all those who made this happen. But the lion’s share of the credit goes to Kim Allen who led the charge and never gave up.

    Reply
  2. Suzanne Rudolph says:

    Thanks to the 6 W.P Citizens, that have been spending time since 2016 on this project.

    The success of your actions will benefit all the citizens of Winter Park for years to come.

    Reply
  3. No Canopy? says:

    If this really happened, why is the Canopy development approval on the agenda for Monday’s City Commission meeting?

    Reply
    • Michael Poole says:

      Short version – City resisted most of these deed restrictions. MLK Park was the most difficult due to the pending library project. Kim Allen worked tirelessly in providing historical documents to counter the City’s claims that MLK Park should have a very limited area deed restricted. The State negotiated a compromise with the City which carved out the area of the library. However, there are restrictions regarding the construction and parking. The citizens of WP are fortunate that the State staff forced the City to comply.

      Reply
      • WP Anon says:

        Thanks for illuminating the issue.
        I would like to know more. What was In the compromise and is it specific to the Library or the whole Bond Issue? I suppose that some pertinent documents are buried in City coffers.
        Possible link?

        Reply
      • No Champagne says:

        Wonder how many more “compromises” will be made for the park land that is said to be “protected.”

        Sounds like it was a noble effort, but the so-called “deed restrictions” lack teeth if they can be compromised away by the government.

        Perhaps a Charter Amendment to ensure government hands off of park land would have been more effective?

        Is a Charter Amendment campaign in the works to protect park lands?

        Don’t want anyone to be lulled into a false sense of security.

        The Canopy is proof that even deed restricted park lands are not safe from development.

        Reply
  4. Mary R Randall says:

    To simply say “Thank You” seems inadequate for the work done by these six
    Winter Parkers. They worked behind the scenes & without fanfare to protect five of our parks forever. It is people like these six who should be praised for keeping the “Park” in Winter Park. You are held in high regard by more citizens than you know!

    Reply
  5. Kathryn Grammer says:

    Great job and many thanks for tireless work. I’ve written grants in the past and if the i’s are not dotted or the t’s crossed, the margins just so, government agencies simply toss the request in the recycle bin.

    Reply
  6. Kathy Kiely says:

    Thank you to all who worked so hard.
    I was glad to see Phelps Park on this list, since in the past the adjacent Winter Park YMCA has shown an interest in expanding onto city park land. I trust this precludes that possibility.

    Reply
  7. sally james says:

    Thank you Anne Mooney and the Voice for publicizing the fact that, due to the untiring efforts of a few, all of Winter Park will greatly benefit.

    It is so easy to simply lead one’s life and stay out of the action. As a personal friend of Kim’s, I have witnessed the untold hours she has put into researching and acting on these important issues on behalf of the rest of us, be it the parks, the library, the Orange Avenue overlay…her social conversation is witness to the fact that righting the wrongs in these cases is never far from her conscious!

    Over the span of the 70 years i’ve lived in Winter Park, i have seen the nibbling away of our green spaces and small-town character, so much of it seeming to accelerate greatly in the last few years.

    There are such important factors to consider going forward, things which should have been addressed over many years and which have not been: traffic, importance to our health of green space and trees and walking areas (NOT just the shrinking of a road like Denning), stormwater, and services…perhaps the most important of these services being potable water which all of Florida is squandering at an alarming rate and which has been brought to our attention by science-minded visionaries since at least 1969.

    Unfortunately, in so many cases, our future quality of life has proved secondary to immediate gain. Once some of these things have been lost, they are not to be regained.

    Thank all of you who have worked hard to make these results happen.

    Reply
  8. SANDRA S WOMBLE says:

    Thank you so much for your contribution to protect our parks. I really appreciate that your efforts were highlighted for all of us to rejoice and emulate! Job well done!

    Reply
  9. Bonnie Ferguson says:

    Thank you to Michael Poole, Charley Williams, Peter Gottfried, Marty Sullivan, Forest Michael and Kim Allen for your dedication, determination, and perseverance to ensure these parks will continue to exist for our time and for the many generations to come! What a generous legacy for all of Winter Park!

    Reply
  10. Anonymous says:

    Awesome job and determination to each of you for helping to protect our parks and getting the city to file the required registering of documents that should have been done!

    I agree much credit to Kim Allen for her research and following through that the city of Winter Park executed the requirement of the grants.
    Great job to all participants!👍🙏
    Mary Daniels

    Reply
  11. Anjali Vaya says:

    Thank you!
    Winter Park needs to be saved from becoming Winter Land.
    How does one even think of such projects in a park is not comprehensible, it is ridiculous!
    Protect our parks.

    Reply
  12. Beth Hall says:

    SIX amazing citizens. Just enough for a WP City Commission plus an alternate.

    There ought to be a PARADE for these folks. Thank you all very much.

    Reply
  13. LeeAnn Inman says:

    Our gratitude demands not only “thank-you” to the folks who worked on behalf of all of us for the green space that makes this community so livable, but also that we activate our thanks by becoming more engaged and vigilant in guarding against the creep of over-development.

    Reply

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