U.S. Census Bureau Reports Central FL Population Explosion

How will Winter Park Cope?

U.S. Census Bureau Reports Central FL Population Explosion


Documentary Film – “Rebels With A Cause”

The 14th Annual Global Peace Film Festival and Rollins College present the documentary film “Rebels With A Cause,” in which a group of “ordinary” northern Californians dealt with just such a question.

Thursday, September 22 – 8:00 pm
Rollins College Bush Auditorium
Click here to buy tickets

Panel Discussion

Immediately following the film, there will be a panel discussion moderated by Orlando Sentinel Columnist Beth Kassab. The five panelists are:
Mark Brewer, President & CEO, Central Florida Foundation
Becky Wilson, Attorney, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed
Bruce Stephenson, Professor Environmental Studies, Rollins College
Chris Castro, City of Orlando Director of Sustainability
Steve Goldman, Winter Park Visioning Steering Committee

Central FL Growing Fastest

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Central Florida is the fastest growing of the 30 largest regions in the country. In January, Orlando Economic Development Commission CEO Rick Weddle told an audience at the Orange County Convention Center that Orlando is “growing at close to double the rate” of the U.S. population. “More people are expected to move here than at any other point in history,” said Weddle, “with a net immigration of 350,000 new residents by 2020.”

Sooner or later, all 350,000 of our new neighbors will find their way to or through Winter Park.

How Will WP Preserve Quality of Life?

One of the overriding concerns expressed by Winter Park residents during the recently completed Visioning Process was how to preserve the character of Winter Park in the face of such growth. Steve Goldman told the Voice in a recent interview, “One thing became clear as we spoke with thousands of people during the Visioning process, and that was that people place a very high value on the village feel of Winter Park. They value the lakes and the tree canopy – the feeling of openness. They expressed a concern that all that was eroding as density increased, and they felt boxed in.”

Can Parks, Green Space Keep Pace with Population Growth?

A growing number of Winter Park residents, including Goldman, believe the only way Winter Park can preserve our quality of life is to ensure that our parks and green space increase at the same rate as the population. “Imagine New York without Central Park,” said Goldman, “or San Francisco without Golden Gate. Without the relief of that green space, neither place would be as attractive, and real estate values would certainly not be at their current levels.”

Government Can’t Solve the Problem

“Everyone seemed to be expressing the same concerns,” said Goldman, “and it became clear to me that government wasn’t going to solve this problem. Nobody wants to raise taxes to buy green space. It became clear that it was going to take a private initiative to bring this about.”

It’s Been Done

“This movie, ‘Rebels with a Cause,’ illustrates that if enough people believe something can happen, it can happen,” said Goldman. “As I’ve been talking to more people about this idea of creating a trust fund to acquire greenspace, I’ve found almost universal excitement about it. The real question is how do you bring people together to do something like this?”

Come See the Inspiring Story of How They Did It

“Rebels with a Cause” chronicles the long journey of preserving coastal lands in Marin and Sonoma Counties in California. Writes Nadine de Coteau of EarthJustice: This film is “a reminder that a strong coalition of ‘regular people’ can achieve a truly ambitious goal.”

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    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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13 replies
  1. Pete Weldon says:

    Thanks to Steve Goldman for acknowledging that the local government alone cannot buy meaningful amounts of new park land in Winter Park. Steve is well placed financially to start this off and I believe many will follow his lead IF we have a sensible plan to acquire property that fits our park needs (not just buy anything that may be available for sale). Also note that improving our existing parks may be as valuable to our quality of life as buying more land. For example, Mead Garden is about 50 acres and is under visited and under utilized. Let’s all help the volunteers at the MeadGarden.org not-for-profit organization improve this gem! The city is supporting them and it would be a great thing if more of our residents get behind them!

    No thanks to Anne Mooney for an unrealistic and misleading headline. Our city will cope just fine because we are not going to experience meaningful population growth. Our challenge is and will be adapting to the population growth around us, not struggling to manage local population growth. With the exception of Ravaudage, which is limited to something like 400 residential units, there is no place for meaningful population growth within the boundaries of Winter Park. I am going to be making recommendations that should limit opportunities for accelerating population growth as the comprehensive plan update process proceeds over the next several months.

    Winter Park is and will always be the best place to live in Central Florida, if not the entire state. Let’s not stir controversy. Let’s work together on positive policy that adds to our quality of life!

    • Just Figurin' says:

      Let’s take your assumption of no meaningful population increases in Winter Park and put it to a hypothetical test.

      Using ball park numbers, and so long as Winter Park continues to be a place attractive to young families, let’s take a hypothetical example or two.

      Let’s say a nice old lady lives in a 1,500 square foot home on a quarter acre that she shared with her husband before he passed. She moves into the Mayflower and sells her home to a nice high tech executive from Melbourne and his wife who intend to knock it down and build a 3,500 square foot home for themselves and their four children nearing adolescence – just so everyone has more of their own space. That hypothetical transaction just increased the population generated by that home SIX times.

      But we’re not finished yet. Sadly, the couple divorces a couple of years after moving in their newly built home. The executive marries an interior designer from Mt. Dora who has three young children from her first marriage. His first wife keeps the house they built in Winter Park with their four children. He wants to be near the kids, so the newly married couple make an offer on an older home (vacant since the former owner took a job in another state) on a large lot, tear it down and build a 5,000 sq. ft. home and have two more children together.

      You with me so far?

      We started with one nice old lady in one little old house. She moved to the Mayflower so she’s still a Winter Park resident.

      Then we added the executive and his family. Now we’re up to seven Winter Park residents that the lot has generated.

      Then we added the executive’s wife number two and five kids (three from her first marriage and they have two together). Now we’re up to thirteen residents, when we started with just one.

      But, we’re not finished yet.

      His first wife gets lonely with just her and her four kids in that big house, so she marries a college professor from Orlando. Now we’re at fourteen residents. We started with just one, remember.

      But, that’s not all. The executive’s second wife’s first husband gets tired of the drive from Mt. Dora to Winter Park to see his kids. So he moves his blended family of six from Mt. Dora to Winter Park after they build a home on a Winter Park lot they got from an investor on a flip. The new wife is from Alaska, and her ex husband likes it there, so he’s not moving to Winter Park. Now we have twenty Winter Park residents, when we started with one!

      So, based on your figurin’ nineteen people have to move out of Winter Park for this transaction to be population neutral.

      Which nineteen residents do you suggest leave Winter Park?

      And you realize I am sure, that it only takes about 300 of these scenarios (that are becoming all too plausible) to increase Winter Park’s population by 20% or more.

      • Scott Redmon says:

        Seriously? That is the silliest logic ever. The only way she moves into the Mayflower is if someone passes and I am sad that your logic involves failed marriages all across town. Pretty sure you are a frustrated fiction writer….you are halfway to a short story.

      • Pitt Warner says:

        Facts are homes are getting bigger, families are getting smaller. Proof is 25 years of tear-downs, flips, divorces, gay marriage, DINKs, Live-ins-whatever, the population of WP has barely moved. The only real increases are due to annexation. Ask City Hall for historical population numbers. This isn’t So Cal 1968.

        • Sardine says:

          Well, I don’t know. Pete Weldon says Winter Park is the best place to live in the whole big US of A.

          And Commissioner Weldon certainly wouldn’t lie about something like that. And if he’s right, they’re probably loading up the wagons now in Utah and such places heading here as we speak. And I hear they have really big families in places like that. REALLY big families. Maybe what you say was true in the past. But Winter Park has been tooting its own horn big time across the country since then, with fancy magazine articles, Super Bowl commercials, etc. Even a peacock like it was NBC or something. There might not be much more room in the can for us sardines once it’s all said and done with.

          But let’s say you’re right. That Winter Park’s population won’t grow, but might even shrink some. Then the next question is why splurge on a brand spanking new $30,000,000 oversized library? Who’s gonna read all those books?

          • Pitt Warner says:

            I think your facts are a little confused. The TV commercial was for beer. No city control over that. The magazines come to city, not vice versa.And why spend “up to” $30 mil? To attract the families and adults who value education. WP needs to be different, unique, special. One way to do that is make us a city of learning. A new library will help. I don’t mind paying for it. And if some vocal opponents would think constructively there are ways to pay for a fabulous facility that won’t burden taxpayers too much. Sell some excess land. Use tax receipts more strategically. It can be done if people get together. Lawsuits don’t bring people together.

        • John Dough says:

          What about the apartments which replaced commercial space or space previously occupied by single family homes?

          Take a look at Denning Drive if you need any proof of that; not to mention the cluster development at the intersection of Canton & Swoope on the West Side. 7 houses torn down, and are replaced by 11!

          Follow the money. If only local citizens were worried about local elections, there’s no way that almost a half a million dollars would have been spent on the last two local races.

          If you have bought 3 votes on the City Commission, you have carte blanche to develop and increase density at will.

          The mayor & his 2 stooges on the commission have proven that they are arrogant & tone deaf to what the real citizens want.

        • John Dough says:

          Source: US Census Bureau.

          Winter Park, FL population, July 1991: 24,649

          Winter Park, FL population, July 2014: 29,442

          Over the 25-year period you cited, that’s an increase of 19%, hardly what you can fairly classify as having “barely moved.”

          This is also before over 600 new apartments went online in the Denning Drive area, so you can add at least 1,000 more on top of that.

          Just sayin’…

          • Pitt Warner says:

            Less than 1% population growth per year isn’t a big deal. Considering Orange County has grown by 60%, we’re Ok. And if you take out Paseo and annexations off Winter Park Rd, Lee Rd, around Lk. Killarney, Krispy Kreme, WP Hospital I think you’ll find we’re static. No other place in WP can a Paseo be built. Unless you know of something. Also, all luxury condos being built are reductions in units. Probably a net reduction if you think they’re here only 1/2 time.

        • Not Convinced says:

          Well, if the point is to attract families who value learning, wouldn’t it make more sense to put the library in the middle of the population concentration of Winter Park (like where it is now)? What families do you know who value learning are going to move to a city where they have to drive a half an hour or more in bumper to bumper traffic just to get to their own library?

          And about the magazines and the Super Bowl commercial, do you really think a business or the federal government would give away millions of dollars of free advertising to a city like Winter Park and expect absolutely nothing in return? Has anyone ever approached you about an investment opportunity in the Brooklyn Bridge? Are you serious? You think Commissioners just approved a whopping City budget as they do every year for a Communications Department, because all those people do all day is just sit around waiting for the phone to ring? Do you really?

    • John Dough says:

      Without a variance, the 38% floor area ratio would apply, so 3,800 square feet under air and counting the garage or carport…unless you have friends on the city commission who may be willing to help you with a variance.


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