Open Letter to Mayor and Commissioners

Open Letter to Mayor and Commissioners

Open Letter to Mayor and Commissioners

We Need More Quiet Zones – Protect Progress Point

by Guest Columnist Charley Williams / May 26, 2021

A friendly reminder. Just a few steps away from the Progress Point site sits Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, which has been stripped of well over 20 percent of its natural green space to make way for the Library-Events Center.

You have a chance to even the score and sooth sore feelings by using Progress Point to restore to our community some of that lost passive green space. Yet, it’s beginning to sound like you plan turn it into some sort of Church Street Station retail-a-palooza.

The entire length of Orange Ave is already a retail zone, and half of Progress Point is already slated to become parking.

How about using what’s left for a park bench with shade trees, bike racks, yoga mats, a drinking fountain, and a pond or fountain? But, please, a park bench without a discarded paper taco tray sitting on it, without a half-full soft drink can underneath it and without a nearby trash can overflowing with IPA cans. And without canned music spilling from a food court.

We do not need to be entertained 24/7. Parks, by definition, don’t need to be “activated.” What we need is the viewshed. What we need is some relative peace and quiet. We need to able to hear ourselves think. We would like to enjoy the natural light.

We have only one Progress Point. For the sake of the soul of our city and the souls who live here, honor it by keeping it green.

Please urge your designers to do better.

With appreciation for all you do.

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$13 Million in Stimulus Funds Earmarked for Winter Park

$13 Million in Stimulus Funds Earmarked for Winter Park

$13 Million in Stimulus Funds Earmarked for Winter Park

by Anne Mooney / May 11, 2021

Winter Park stands to receive almost $13 million in federal stimulus funds earmarked through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), providing us a rare opportunity to rebuild from the pandemic and to shape future programs.

Tomorrow’s Commission discussion is one you may want to tune into, as it could directly affect many people and organizations in Winter Park.

Commission will decide where to spend the money

At its Wednesday, May 12, meeting, the Commission will undertake to prioritize the allocation of ARP dollars, which they anticipate will arrive in two payments. The first payment of $7,426,723 should arrive this month, May 2021; the second payment in the same amount should come in May 2022. The ARP requires all funds to be expended by the end of 2024.

Some dollars are restricted

Although guidance from the Feds is oblique (surprise!), City staff estimates about $3 million may be spent on any purpose the City decides, as these funds are intended to replace losses incurred as a result of the pandemic. A suggestion in a federal document reads, in part: “(1)(A) “. . . assistance to households, small businesses, and non-profits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality.”

The remaining $10 million will be subject to restrictions imposed by the legislation. Clearly allowed are transfers of funds to non-profits, economic development studies, water and sewer enhancements and internet improvements.

Other infrastructure dollars under discussion at the federal level

Less clear is whether the City can use these funds for transportation improvements. City staff is monitoring discussions at the federal level of a separate $2 trillion infrastructure bill, as that money could fund transportation improvements that are not eligible under the ARP.

Thoughts from the April 28 workshop

On April 28, the Commission held a workshop to discuss setting priorities for ARP funds. Funding that can only be spent on eligible categories fell into four broad categories: 1) recurring non-profit partners, excluding Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, 2) households and small businesses, 3) tourism, travel and hospitality, and 4) broadband.

Interesting among the categories was the discussion around “recurring non-profit partners.” First was the exclusion of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, which will still get its promised $100,000, but no extra money from the ARP pot of dollars.

Local organizations will receive extra ARP dollars

Commissioners discussed using the ARP funds to add 50 percent to current City funding levels for each of the following non-profits. For further detail and exact dollar amounts, click here: Local Organizations

Winter Park Public Library

Historical Association

United Arts

Polasek

Mead Garden

Winter Park Day Nursery

Blue Bamboo

Welbourne Day Nursery

Enzian Theater

Winter Park Playhouse

Depugh Nursing Home

Heritage Center (Crealde)

WPPL – just another non-profit?

The Winter Park Public Library, currently the recipient of the largest tranche of City dollars, could garner an additional $828,000 through the ARP – if it is treated the same as the other non-profits that receive City support. The question of whether or not to make the library a separate line item or to include it with the rest of the non-profits has yet to be answered.

“Apples and peaches,” says Weaver

“I would prefer the Commission discuss library funding from the ARP as a line item separate from the other non-profits,” said Commissioner Todd Weaver. “I don’t think we can compare the effect the pandemic had on the library with the effect it had on the other non-profits, which are dependent on sales or attendance at events. They are apples and peaches.”

Sullivan is of like mind.

“I am in favor of continuing the funding, which is approximately two-thirds of their budget,” said Commissioner Marty Sullivan. “However, it seems apparent that financial impact of COVID on the library would be less than on the other non-profits, because they already rely primarily on the City for their funding, whereas the others do not.”

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper said she thought it might be a good idea to consult one of the City Advisory Boards as to the appropriate allocation of funds among these groups.

Tune in tomorrow to find out.

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Killarney Estates – No Longer the ‘Forgotten Triangle’

Killarney Estates – No Longer the ‘Forgotten Triangle’

Killarney Estates – No Longer the ‘Forgotten Triangle’

Can the City Reunite the Neighborhood?

In late January, plans to build the Henderson Hotel in the triangle bordered by 17-92, Fairbanks Avenue and Lake Killarney, known as Killarney Estates, ran headlong up against Comprehensive Plan Policy 1-J-9, which reads, “Protect Single-Family Residential Use in the Killarney Neighborhood from Non-Residential Land Use Encroachment. The City shall preserve and protect the single-family residential land use within the Killarney neighborhood from commercial and office encroachment . . . .”

Just before midnight on January 27 — before the Commission could vote on Commissioner Marty Sullivan’s motion to deny – attorney for developer Adam Wonus withdrew the application to build the hotel. It was Game Over.

Killarney Neighborhood’s cut-through traffic

Despite the outcome for the Henderson, Adam Wonus’s two-year effort to win approval for his project produced some positive results for this neglected corner of Winter Park by shining a light on serious traffic problems and general infrastructure neglect by the City. For years, Killarney residents had been plagued by cut-through traffic trying to avoid the major intersection of 17-92 and Fairbanks Avenue, and the development of way-finding apps has only made matters worse as Waze and others direct drivers going from 17-92 to Fairbanks (or the reverse) through the back streets of the neighborhood.

City Planners to the rescue

When Adam Wonus began meeting with the Lake Killarney neighbors about his proposed hotel, they described their traffic woes and Wonus alerted City Planners to their need for help. Commissioners and City staff met with the neighbors and decided to field test a traffic barrier on the southern leg of the intersection of Killarney Dr. and Fairview Ave. The City also created a permanent physical separation of Grove Ave. from Dallas Ave. and Broadview Ave. Adam Wonus even paid for the planter bollards that formed the barrier at Killarney Drive and Fairview Ave.

The traffic calming measures worked, cut-through traffic has slowed to a trickle and most Killarney neighbors are living happily ever after.

Unintended Consequences – A Neighborhood Divided

The demise of the Henderson project, however, has left what would have been the commercial hotel property separated from the rest of the neighborhood. The successful measures to tame cut-through traffic in the residential area southwest of Fairview now separate that part of the neighborhood from the portion north and east of Fairview.

The northeast part of the neighborhood is a mix of residential, commercial and office, and part of it fronts on 17-92, but there are still residential lakefront parcels in that area which most of the Killarney neighbors and the all of the City Commission wish to protect from commercial development.

How to put the neighborhood back together?

At a special Commission meeting February 11, 2021, the Commission directed staff to come up with additional options to protect the residential lakefront property and to reintegrate those properties into the existing transportation network. City staff also has initiated negotiations with mapping companies to eliminate cut-through routes through the Killarney neighborhood.

Decisions on traffic solutions must be based on future land use

At the March 24 Commission meeting, Planning Department staff presented 12 possible solutions to the remaining traffic problems.

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper quickly pointed out how the cart may have gotten ahead of the horse. “There are very different possible traffic solutions, depending on what the land use is,” she said. “Before we talk about zoning, let’s talk about what future land use really makes sense on these five or six parcels. The traffic solution must be based on a resolution of future land use by this Commission.”

Commission agrees to future workshop to discuss future land use

Of the possible solutions to the traffic problems, the City’s first option describes measures that either are already in place or well into the planning stages. It includes the planter bollard barrier at Fairview and Killarney Dr., and a small park area that would cut off the connection between Broadview, Dallas and Grove Avenues. This area already has been cordoned off with temporary barriers and cones. The only thing missing was a funding source. To build the “parklet,” as it is called, the City had to find $165,000 in additional funds.

CRA or Parks Acquisition Fund?

Since the intersection of Broadview, Dallas and Grove falls within the CRA, money could come from CRA, or because it’s a ‘parklet,’ the money could come from the Parks Acquisition Fund.

Commissioner Sheila DeCiccio made a motion to move forward with this option, to leave the bollards as they are, build the ‘parklet’ with $165,000 from the Parks Acquisition Fund and to hold a workshop to discuss future land use and a more permanent traffic solution based on the future land use. Commissioner Todd Weaver seconded. Weaver amended the motion to add approximately $3,600 to reimburse Adam Wonus for the cost of the bollards, with a second from Commissioner Marty Sullivan.

The main motion, as amended, passed on a 5-0 vote.

 

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In Answer to ‘A Letter to Winter Park Residents’

In Answer to ‘A Letter to Winter Park Residents’

In Answer to ‘A Letter to Winter Park Residents’

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

Guest Columnist Peter Gottfried / February 2, 2021

Peter Weldon, a former Commissioner, recently wrote to “fellow Winter Park Residents” outlining his opposition to Phil Anderson’s candidacy for Mayor.  Mr. Weldon, as many of you know, ran for City Commission three times. He was elected to one term 2016-2019. He lost in 2008 to Phil Anderson, and again in 2019 to Todd Weaver.

Questionable arguments

In his recent letter, Mr. Weldon seeks to lay what he sees as the current Commission’s shortcomings at Phil Anderson’s door and to question Anderson’s character in the process. These questionable arguments deserve closer examination.

First, Weldon claims, “the actions of Commission members Weaver, Sullivan and DeCiccio bring Phil Anderson’s judgment into question.” If you think about that even for a minute, you’ll realize it’s a bit of a stretch.

Weldon’s assertions

Mr. Weldon wants you to believe that the current Commission . . .

  1. Voted to increase the property tax rate 11.5%.”

FALSE:  The tax rate (millage) did not change in 2021 and has not changed for 13 years.

  1. “Voted to “rescind” the Orange Avenue Overlay, changing our Comprehensive Plan in violation of our laws, resulting in legal action against the city (case number: 2020-CA-004388-O).ci”

MISLEADING:  Absolutely no laws were violated. In fact, the judge recently granted the City’s motion to dismiss the Orange Avenue Overlay developers’ lawsuits against the City.

  1. “Spent several hundred thousand dollars for consultants for additional Orange Avenue traffic studies and to plan a design they (the Commission) like for the City owned Progress Point property on Orange Avenue. Their plan has no professional planning input, and they offer no strategic justification for it, nor clarify who they expect will pay for implementation (you?).”

MISLEADING:  This statement is very misleading.  Professional planning input has been provided at every step through contracts to professional architectural and engineering firms; in addition, many professionals have donated their time, free of cost, to advise the Commissioners during their many work sessions.

  1. “Commissioners Sullivan and DeCiccio recently voted to spend $2,800,000 from our emergency reserves outside the annual budget process with no planning and they tried to hide the expense by “borrowing” the money from our water and sewer emergency reserves.”

MISLEADING: This is again misleading. First, there was no attempt to ‘hide’ the expense, it was openly discussed and had the support of Mayor Leary. The funds the current commission plans to borrow will be replenished with funds made available from soon-to-be retired bonds for the Public Safety Building. There is some irony in the fact that Weldon supports a mayoral candidate who gave $1million of taxpayer money to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Arts as a “donation.”  No other City in central Florida, except the center’s home city of Orlando, gave a penny.

  1. “Insisted on a “back yard chicken” ordinance. Do you want chickens in your neighborhood?”

TRUE: The chicken ordinance was limited to 25 permits on a limited two-year trial basis.  So far, two permits have been granted, a third application is still pending, but as yet, we still have no chickens. As a self-proclaimed property rights guy, Mr. Weldon might have been expected to support such a measure. Backyard chickens are already approved in Orange County, Maitland and Orlando, and all three jurisdictions report no problems so far.

  1. “Voted to diminish our city’s sovereignty by committing Winter Park’s support to an unaccountable state mandated planning agency.”

FALSE:  This regional planning initiative does not in any way affect our sovereignty. It is a Memorandum of Understanding with the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council. It requires no City funding, only cooperative planning efforts. Considering we have approximately 1,000 new residents coming into central Florida every week, why wouldn’t it be prudent to ask for regional planning assistance, especially if it is free?  Wouldn’t we want to be a part of the regional planning that directly affects our traffic, roads and water resources?

  1. They are now considering spending millions of dollars to buy land on Fairbanks to ‘improve traffic’ without having any idea whether traffic will improve or not.”

MISLEADING:  This from the same person who voted to sell City-owned land that was adjacent not only to Fairbanks Avenue but also to Martin Luther King Park.  We all know Fairbanks traffic needs improvement, and professional traffic engineering firms are actively assisting the current Commission in their planning efforts.

 

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No Henderson Hotel for Winter Park

No Henderson Hotel for Winter Park

No Henderson Hotel for Winter Park

by Anne Mooney / January 29, 2020

Once again, the City Commission meeting went on longer than a bad dream, finally limping to a halt just before midnight January 27. With routine business addressed early and dispatched quickly, most of the meeting revolved around the First Reading of the Henderson Hotel requests for Conditional Use and changes to the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Codes.

The developer, Adam Wonus of Winter Park Historic Hotels Group, was also requesting an ordinance to vacate portions of Killarney Drive and Fairview Avenue so that visitors to the hotel — be they hotel guests or Winter Park residents — would have unfettered access from the hotel to the lakefront. In return, the developer planned to provide landscaping and cleanup for the lakefront plus just under an acre of open green space and parkland.

Citizens support ‘City asset’

Wonus spent the past few years meeting people, going door-to-door in the Killarney neighborhood in an attempt to devise a commercially viable hotel project that would be an asset to the City while, at the same time being compatible with the neighborhood. As a result, a preponderance of commenters at Wednesday night’s Commission meeting were strongly in support of the Henderson project. They said not only would the project be good for the City, it would also greatly enhance the section of 17-92 between Beachview and Fairview Avenues south of the Trader Joe’s shopping center.

Neighbors oppose commercial development

On the other side of the question was a well-organized group of Lake Killarney neighbors who employed a cadre of experts — lawyers and engineers — to oppose approval of the project. They were concerned about the impact such a large project would have on the health of the lake, the light and noise pollution generated by large events at the hotel and the encroachment of commercial activity in their residential neighborhood.

Commission Divided

As the discussion moved from public comment to discussion among the Commissioners, it became clear that the Commission was divided among its members, and that several Commissioners were ambivalent in their own thinking.

Developer offers plan changes

In the midst of the Commission discussion, attorney for the developer Becky Wilson offered a list of changes to the project that including eliminating the ballroom and the subterranean parking garage, going from five to four stories and eliminating the surface parking on the park that was planned adjacent to the hotel.

To accept this offer, the Commission would have had either to change the proposed development agreement on the fly or vote on it as presented and trust that it would be changed later. They balked.

Commissioners want to postpone

Mayor Steve Leary moved to accept the application as presented, and proposed to send the developer and the staff back to the drawing board to come up with revised plans for the Second Reading. When Leary’s motion failed to get a second, Commissioners Sheila DeCiccio and Carolyn Cooper attempted to get the applicant to agree to table the issue until the plans could be revised. “I cannot, in all conscience, vote on an ordinance that does not accurately reflect the project,” said DeCiccio.

Attorney Wilson responded that if the project were tabled, they would withdraw the application.

Sullivan and Weaver opposed

Commissioners Marty Sullivan and Todd Weaver gave extended explanations for their intent to withhold support. “This is a grand project,” said Sullivan, “but it’s in the wrong place,”

Weaver stated his refusal to go against the measure in the City’s Comprehensive Plan that says the City ‘shall protect the residential character of the Killarney neighborhood,’ and said he opposed rezoning residential R1A properties to C3 commercial.

When Commissioner Marty Sullivan moved to deny the Henderson application, attorney Becky Wilson stepped to the microphone and stated, “Mayor, we withdraw our application.” No vote was taken, giving the applicant the opportunity to resubmit the application at any time.

Editor’s note: This sentence has been corrected to reflect the Commission motion to deny.

No vote was taken.

One word was used by people on both sides of the issue to describe what happened: Sad.

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper said, “I’m so sad that we couldn’t work something out, because we had a really good development team with strong financial backing. Adam’s job is to dream big. Our job is to uphold the Comp Plan.”

“The Comp Plan is our value system,” said Cooper, “and it says we must protect our single-family neighborhoods. Actually, that neighborhood is a mixture of residential, commercial and office. But if we are going to allow commercial development in an area like that, I want to be damned sure it’s compatible with the residential neighborhood.”

Killarney resident Lisa Waddington expressed similar sentiments. “I feel sad about the whole thing,” she said. “Millions of dollars and thousands of hours have been expended. While this is not a ‘victory,’ per se, I am grateful that the Commission has upheld the residential character of our neighborhood, giving us the chance to reach for our full potential. We want our neighborhood to be known as an urban, boho, cool corner of the city – hiding in plain sight. Hillstone matches the scale and character of our neighborhood. It’s smaller and low-key. Unfortunately, the Henderson did not.”

Waddington described how the developer had helped the neighborhood in their dealings with the City. “Adam listened to the residents, and he had influence. He helped us get the City to fix the bricked streets and put in cut-through barriers. And Commissioner Sullivan is clear that he wants to work with us in the future to address storm water drainage and lake cleanup.”

Adam Wonus said, “I don’t know – it was really sad. We had a lot of support, and we met so many nice people. Everything we did was to provide benefits to everyone, but a small group of people was able to block an investment in the City. The Henderson would have been an amenity – one that was on the tax rolls. The cost to redraft the plans is about $125,000. That was my money – real money, out my pocket, and I just couldn’t afford to do it any more.”

Asked if he thought he might be able to bring the project back at a later date, he said, “I think not.”

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P&Z OKs Henderson Hotel

P&Z OKs Henderson Hotel

P&Z OKs Henderson Hotel

by Anne Mooney / January 8, 2021

A redesigned 132-room Henderson Hotel received approval on a 4-3 vote from Planning & Zoning Jan. 5 – 6. The luxury hotel on the eastern shore of Lake Killarney will feature a 7,500 square foot ballroom and a 220-seat restaurant. The $50 million Henderson project was the final agenda item, closing a marathon 7-hour meeting that went well past midnight into Jan. 6.

After the project was tabled last year, developer Adam Wonus and architects Baker Barrios sent the Henderson Hotel back to the drawing board. Despite the addition of 20 rooms, the size of the building was reduced from 210,522 square feet to 129,100 square feet by placing one level of garage parking underground. The footprint of the building will now allow approximately 44 percent of the total land area to be open green space.

Multiple Concessions Requested

The application includes a request for Conditional Use and multiple requests for amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Code. The proposed 2.97-acre site is an aggregate of several parcels, seven of which are currently zoned residential R1A. Four of the residential parcels have lakefront access. Two other parcels are zoned office. The application seeks to change all these zoning designations to commercial C3 and Open Space Recreational.

The Henderson application also seeks approval to vacate portions of Killarney Drive and Fairview Avenue in order to provide access to the lakefront. The hotel will be set back from the lake 84 feet at the closest point, and the developer proposes to create more than an acre and a half of open space and parkland and to provide public access to a pedestrian viewing dock they plan to build.

Public Comment Sharply Divided and Very Long

There were in excess of 50 public comments, lasting four-plus hours, and they were more or less evenly divided between those who were enthusiastically in favor of the project and those who were vehemently opposed to it. If there was anyone in the middle ground, they remained silent.

The two opinion pieces that accompany this article are representative of the differing views of this project.

Those who like it

Those in favor see the proposed hotel as an amenity for the city, and point out that the Henderson would be the only lakefront hotel in Winter Park. They appreciate the Victorian-style architecture that is reminiscent of the old hotels that were here at the beginning. They look forward to having a place to celebrate special occasions or just have a nice dinner out. The Henderson would provide residents an alternative to the Alfond Inn for visiting friends and relatives. Most seemed to regard the hotel more as a part of the commercial area along 17-92, which needs revitalization, and less a part of the interior neighborhood adjacent the lake. Commenters in favor included a number of residents from the Killarney neighborhood.

And those who don’t

Those who spoke in opposition were concerned about the size of the project and the violation of the Comprehensive Plan provision to, “Protect Single-Family Residential Use in the Killarney Neighborhood from Non-Residential Land Use Encroachment.” Concerns were raised about the subterranean parking garage, which is in close proximity both to the lakefront and to Hillstone Restaurant, and commenters worried about adverse effects to the lake and surrounding properties from the traffic, light and noise a hotel/restaurant/ballroom facility would produce.

Next step – City Commission

Having received the nod from P&Z, the Henderson Hotel application will proceed for a first reading to the City Commission on January 27, 2021.

 

Open Letter to Candidates for Mayor

Where Do You Stand on the Henderson Hotel?

Guest Columnist Beth Hall

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

Qualifying for the Winter Park mayor’s race has begun. Two candidates, Phil Anderson and Sarah Sprinkel, have long been declared candidates for the gavel. Not even a pandemic can stop a city election, so zoom rooms, patios and even living rooms are filling with the pitches of the candidates in their attempts to win your vote.  The air, followed by city mailboxes, will begin to fill with candidates’ promises to “protect the traditional charm and character of Winter Park,” as they do every time there is a race for a commission seat.

Henderson Hotel provides a litmus test

Usually, we voters simply must take them at their word. But this year, a litmus test is available to us on this promise right now. That test is the application of Winter Park Historic Hotels Group to build the Henderson Hotel – and where the candidates stand on the issue.

On Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, the Winter Park Planning and Zoning Board heard the request of Adam Wonus and the Winter Park Historic Hotels Group to build a 132-room, five-story, 129,100 square foot hotel and event center with a 205-space subterranean garage on the shores of Lake Killarney. Seven of the lots which comprise the hotel site are currently zoned single family R1A, and four of these have direct lake frontage. The hotel site is next to Hillstone Restaurant but unlike Hillstone, the hotel would have no frontage on 17-92.

P&Z Votes in Favor

P & Z voted 4-3 to recommend construction of the behemoth in the middle of a quiet, lakefront residential neighborhood, essentially taking a blow torch to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The number of provisions in the Comp Plan which prohibit this type of development is this place are too numerous to count. But the one that objecting neighbors relied upon most heavily to guard their rights to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes was Policy 1-J-9.

Policy 1-J-9 reads:

Protect Single-Family Residential Use in the Killarney Neighborhood from Non-Residential Land Use Encroachment. The City shall preserve and protect the single-family residential land use within the Killarney neighborhood from commercial and office encroachment, excluding parcels that have or obtain Parking Lot (PL) zoning designation along the edges where commercial, office and residential meet. All development should include appropriate landscape buffers, including walls if necessary, so as not to have a negative impact on the residential neighborhood.

Will the Killarney neighborhood lose its residential flavor?

In my opinion the hotel will change the residential flavor of this neighborhood forever, as it would allow the penetration of light, sound, traffic, and more into this neighborhood.   The building would dwarf its surroundings at heights of up to 73 feet. Meetings, parties, weddings and other celebrations will be allowed at the hotel, which is a 24/7 operation by definition. And all on a site that includes six residential homes, one of which is currently occupied. The nearest neighbors live directly across the street.

Where do Anderson & Sprinkel stand?

What do the current candidates for mayor think about this project? They cannot vote on it, but they can tell voters where they stand. Neither spoke at Tuesday’s P & Z meeting. Without question, the most important role of the commission is to make land use decisions in our city. Where do they stand? I don’t know, but I sure would like to know before I cast my vote. Whether you are for approval of the project or against it, wouldn’t you like to know too? I ask them to inform voters of their position on this project. Now.

 

Support for the Henderson Hotel

A Winter Park Community Asset

Guest Columnist Craig Castor

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

My wife Sarah and I are both long time Winter Park Residents. We moved into our current home on Lake Killarney almost 20 years ago. While that time has gone by a little too fast for my taste, we have both loved seeing how our community has evolved over the years. With time comes change, but that positive change seems to have missed the area where the proposed Henderson Hotel is planned.

This area, between Hillstone restaurant and the Palm Hills (former Ranch Mall) development, has remained run down and is in need of upgraded redevelopment to come up to Winter Park standards. In fact, at this week’s Planning and Zoning meeting, a fellow Lake Killarney resident mentioned having to take drug paraphernalia out of his young daughter’s hands during their walk in the area. I can only say, I am not surprised.

I am writing to express not only my enthusiastic support, but also my excitement for The Henderson Hotel at Lake Killarney. This project will completely revitalize a forgotten area of Winter Park by removing dilapidated buildings and adding a park space to an area that is hardly walkable at this time.

Henderson is a 17-92 project.

As I sat listening to the presentation of the proposed Henderson Hotel at the Planning and Zoning meeting January 5, 2021, I was struck by what Ross Johnston and some other board members noted about this project. This project is a 17-92 project.  It is not a project that is in the Killarney Neighborhood.  This project is a Winter Park community project.

Public Outreach

The Henderson Hotel has been painstakingly planned and is a result of an unprecedented outreach by the developers to the neighborhood and to the entire community.  My wife and I first learned about the project some three or four years ago and over that time we have been asked to share our views on how to make the project better, more environmentally sustainable and more sensitive to the surroundings.

Timeless Asset

The end result is that the proposed Henderson Hotel project takes into account the wants, concerns and views of the overall community and the neighborhood regarding cut-through traffic, creating a safer environment for the families that live in the neighborhood, creating a neighborhood park, reducing lake traffic by eliminating the deteriorating docks, cleaning up the lakeshore and reducing debris coming into the lake to improve the overall health of the lake. It is incredible that one project can do all of this and also be a beautiful addition to Winter Park. If you have not had a chance to take a closer look at this project, I urge you to do so as we have a great opportunity to add a timeless asset to our community!

 

 

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