15th Annual Shred Event

15th Annual Shred Event

15th Annual Shred Event

Are you drowning in paper? Tax returns from the 1980s? Love letters you wouldn’t want to discuss?
Get rid of that old paper. Commerce Bank & Trust on Orlando Ave. can help.

15th Annual Shred Event

No binders, trash, metal clasps or disks.

When: Friday, June 17, 2022 from 9:00 – Noon

Where: 1201 South Orlando Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789

Limit 6 boxes per vehicle;
call 407-622-8181 for larger quantities.


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Local News Matters

Local News Matters

Local News Matters

Guest Columnist Geri Throne / May 25, 2020

Local news matters. It connects our community. It keeps us informed about major city decisions that affect our quality of life. It keeps track of government, shining a bright light on the actions of government officials, both elected and appointed. It helps foster political involvement.

Each spring, the Winter Park Voice seeks donations and pledges to support its newsgathering efforts. I hope you can respond generously. As a reader and a journalist, I believe that financial support of the Voice is more important now than ever.

Why? Because Winter Park is one more example of the precarious state of local news coverage nationwide. Just a few years ago, the Voice’s Anne Mooney had plenty of company at City Hall when she reported and researched stories. Fellow journalists from the Orlando Sentinel and the weekly Winter Park Observer also attended City Commission meetings and wrote about City Hall news.

But in 2019, the Observer ceased covering Winter Park. And as the Sentinel continues to trim its staff, its local news coverage has greatly diminished.

Meanwhile, in Winter Park, the Voice remains.

From its inception 10 years ago, the Voice has strived to be an impartial, reader-supported source of local news. Like a growing number of online “hyperlocal” news outlets throughout the country, it focuses on local government. After all, what happens at City Hall has the most direct effect on residents – from zoning decisions and parks improvements to bond issues and tax increases. The Voice not only reports and publishes articles online, but also invites community members to submit columns and comments. It moderates the Winter Park Voice page on Facebook.

As a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel in the 1980s and 1990s, I quickly learned that failure to pay attention to government boards or agencies, no matter how insignificant they may seem, could result in decisions that have little to do with the public good.

Unfortunately, Central Florida’s struggling news industry mirrors a nationwide trend that began with the rise of the internet. Declining advertising revenues over a period of 15 years has shuttered more than a quarter of our country’s newspapers. More than 60 dailies and 1,700 weeklies have closed. Remaining newspapers often lack the resources to cover routine public meetings and hold public officials accountable. The Voice does not need bricks and mortar to keep local news alive in Winter Park, but it does need your support.

Keep in mind — the less we pay attention, the more we pay the price. Your contributions are vital to sustaining the Voice. Please give as generously as you can.

Thank you.

Geri Throne, author of the recently published novel “Secret Battles,” is a frequent contributor to the Winter Park Voice.

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WP Village to Get Post-COVID Facelift

WP Village to Get Post-COVID Facelift

WP Village to Get Post-COVID Facelift

Regal Cinema Could Light up the Night

by Anne Mooney / April 23, 2022

Winter Park Town Center, Ltd., (“Casto”) owner of Winter Park Village, plans a major facelift for the 25-year-old open-air retail village, one of the first of its kind in the country.  Like other retail and restaurant establishments, Winter Park Village tenants have suffered during the pandemic. All struggled; some failed altogether. But Casto promises brighter days ahead.

Casto to invest $40M+

In a letter to the Winter Park City Commission, Casto’s Brett Hutchens stated, “As we move out of the pandemic, we . . . have made the decision to invest over $40 million in upgrading Winter Park Village. This will include . . . rebranding; updating architecture and facades; enhanced lighting and landscaping; enhanced outdoor spaces . . .; new outdoor furnishings along with exterior and interior enhancements to Regal Cinemas.”

Regal Cinemas enhancements

If the Village is getting the complete Mommy Makeover, Regal Cinemas is asking for the Plastic Fantastic which would, of course, require a Conditional Use approval or two.

Lighted Tower marks the entrance

The first Conditional Use request is construction of a 63-foot-high central architectural tower which requires a variance of eight feet above the permitted 55-foot height. The tower would be located at the main entrance to the cinema. It would be covered on the north, west and south sides by an ornamental grill and illuminated from within. The fourth side would be opaque to prevent casting illumination to the east where there are residential properties.

No flashing lights

Despite some confusion among Commissioners at the April 13 meeting, Casto assured the City that the lights inside the tower are not neon, and they will not flash or change color. Instead, they will provide a steady, constant illumination behind the decorative grill that will cover the lower part of the tower that rises to meet a pointed, opaque roof.  Someone at the meeting likened the lighted tower to a jack-o-lantern.

Exterior animated screens entertain visitors to the Village

The other request for Conditional Use, which promises to bring a little bit of ‘Vegas right here to Winter Park, is for three large digital animated screens on the exterior of the cinema.

The proposed central sign over the entrance is 1,275 square feet and measures in excess of 70 feet in width. It will have lighted, moving images advertising movies being shown at the theater.

The main sign would be flanked by two smaller screens of 141 square feet each – also with moving digital images displayed on them.

P&Z weighs in

As is customary, Casto presented their requests to Planning & Zoning (P&Z) before going before the Commission. Staff brought the requests forward with a recommendation for approval of the 63-foot tower, but did not take a position on the electric signage request, advising that the Commission should be “the recommending body for this specific type of request.”

P&Z voted 7-0 for approval to construct a central architectural tower at a height of 63 feet.

On a 5-2 vote, P&Z voted to approve the installation of three electronic signs, with the following conditions:

    • There must be no offsite advertisements displayed on the electronic screens.
    • The lighting must only be on during theater business hours.
    • The electronic screens should have no sound.
    • Movie trailers only are allowed to be shown on the electronic screens.

Dissenting votes were cast by Michael Spencer and Alex Stringfellow.

Commission votes to Table

While the April 13 Commission meeting featured a lengthy and sometimes wandering discussion, no conclusion was reached. Casto agreed to go back to Regal to see if they would consider reducing the size of the exterior lighted screens. Commissioners seemed inclined to go along with the lighted tower, but as the discussion gradually ran out of steam, the Commissioners voted unanimously to Table the requests to the April 27 Commission meeting.

Be sure to tune in this Wednesday evening.


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Local News Matters

Top Young Composers Coming to Steinmetz

Top Young Composers Coming to Steinmetz

by Geri Throne

After a two-year hiatus due to Covid, the National Young Composers Challenge will return April 10 to Orlando. The Composium – part concert, part competition, part seminar – will be largest in the NYCC’s 17-year history. It will be held in the new Steinmetz Concert Hall at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Admission is free. Winning compositions will be rehearsed, discussed and recorded before the live audience. The NYCC receives submissions from throughout the United States for the event. A panel of judges selects the top three orchestral and top three ensemble compositions to be performed. Because of the Covid hiatus, twice as many composers as in past years will be featured.

The national event is billed as a chance for audience members to connect to the orchestra and view the inner workings of orchestral composition. Christopher Wilkins again will serve as maestro and audience guide. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, expanded this year with 11 more string players, will perform the works. It also will perform winning compositions from the 2021 national challenge and from the previous two years.

Founded in 2005, the NYCC is a non-profit charitable organization whose goal is to promote the creation of new orchestral music and foster the careers of the next generation of American composers.

The Composium begins at noon and continues through 6 p.m., followed by a reception. Attendees can come and go during the day, but they are encouraged to register online in advance at www.drphillipscenter.org.


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Partnering for Parks

Partnering for Parks

Partnering for Parks

by Geri Throne / March 28, 2022

A unique alliance between the city and a local non-profit group could mean extra money for city parks.

In a deal thought to be a first for Winter Park, the city and the Winter Park Land Trust have agreed to share the cost of hiring a grant writer focused exclusively on pursuing parks funding. The city and the non-profit each will contribute up to $30,000 a year toward the position.

City commissioners unanimously approved the alliance at their last meeting.

“It’s kind of a historic thing,” said Steve Goldman, chair of the Land Trust’s board. Formed in 2018, the Winter Park Land Trust is an independent 501c3 dedicated to making sure the city has sufficient parks and open spaces. Like other public land trusts, it seeks to identify, acquire and preserve land for the benefit of the public. The United States has more than 1,200 of such organizations, but relatively few are in Florida.

Grant writers not only research the availability of funding from a variety of sources, but also write grant applications.

Under the agreement, the city and Land Trust will identify properties they both agree would be worthwhile to add to the city’s green space or to improve for better public use. That list will serve as a foundation for the grant writer’s research. The grant writer must have the city manager’s and Land Trust chair’s approval before applying for any grant.

At their meeting, several city commissioners stressed that for this alliance to work, good communication about the city’s priorities will be essential. Goldman agreed on the need for mutual consensus. “The city and the Trust have to come to agreement on each individual project.”

Grants for parks can come from a wide variety of sources. For example, Goldman said, “there’s a lot of federal money available for stormwater and transportation” that could also benefit parks. Several commissioners made that same point at their meeting. Commissioner Todd Weaver noted that the city of Orlando received grants for its Dubsdread Golf Course from the Florida Department of Transportation because the course’s improved ponds now serve as stormwater retention for the expanded Interstate 4.

Commissioner Marty Sullivan later expressed similar optimism. “This is a new kind of venture. City staff has worked on this and the city commission has looked at it and said, Yeah, let’s do it. I think there’s lots of county, state and federal opportunities” for money for green space improvements.


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