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Mark Winton   November 5, 2014

[ Letter to Commissioners and City Manager copied to WPV ]


I am very concerned with the beginning process of the visioning process. I will only list a few here:

First, holding interviews with individual commissioners and mayor to get information about the process and what should be addressed and then having the ULI group say they are in agreement violates the basic tenet of research transparency. How do we know what was discussed or agreed upon? How can I verify or validate the data?

Second, by trying to interview or survey everyone without a logical plan could lead to biased results. Random sampling, and maybe stratified or cluster might be better to use, not only for valid and reliable results, but also to reduce cost.

Third, having the commissioners and mayor appoint a steering committee makes no sense and gives the appearance of a specially selected group that has ties to the commissioners and mayor. The consulting group that carries out the research should have a specific plan approved by the commissioners and mayor. A steering committee will just make the process more politically unstable.

Finally, this process does not appear to be transparent at all. If I conducted a data audit itI would be stopped at the first phase as there would be no trail to follow.

With my concerns, notwithstanding, it is still possible for you all to hire a qualified firm to carry out the visioning mission if you all avoid micromanaging them. I will be forming my own committee with concerned citizens to oversee this entire process to insure it is conducted in an appropriate manner.

I wish you all luck with this project and do hope that it moves Winter Park forward.

Michael   June 27, 2014

I’m just back from south Florida, and what I discovered there has convinced me that Winter Park should abandon its plan to bury its electric system.

In both Coral Gables and Palm Beach, the electric systems are primarily above ground, and there are no plans to bury them. Both cities are elegant, affluent, beautiful, and concerned about trees, and could easily afford to bury 100% of their power lines if they so desired. Both cities are considerably wealthier than Winter Park. And one could argue that both have an added reason to bury their systems, because, being located on the coast, they experience stronger winds from tropical storms than does inland Winter Park. But neither city is planning to bury its electric system. Note the cities’ current median family incomes:

Winter Park: $ 74,000
Coral Gables: $125,000
Palm Beach: $138,000

If Coral Gables and Palm Beach aren’t burying their electric systems, why should Winter Park? Winter Park residents haven’t even been allowed to vote on this costly plan.

Winter Park’s proposal is out of the mainstream. Most cities are burying new power lines in new residential subdivisions. But very few cities are relocating their entire electric infrastructure from overhead to underground. This is because they can’t justify the cost – they need to spend those tens of millions of dollars on other, more important needs. Keep in mind that $1 million will not even buy 1 mile of underground urban conduit.

Winter Park should abandon its citywide undergrounding plan. Neighborhoods wishing to bury power lines should tax themselves for this purpose, rather than expect all city residents to pay for this.

Barry Williams   April 3, 2014

Winter Park should scrap its plan to bury its electric system. Such a massive undertaking would be a costly overreaction to the “bad old days” of Progress Energy and would be hard to justify when limited city funds are needed for other purposes. Commissioners should abandon the goal of undergrounding the entire system, and instead consider burying selected circuits as may be proposed from time to time by the city’s electric director.

The cost of burying the entire electric system would be staggering. Winter Park estimated the cost of burying the first 9 miles of mainline feeders at $1.2 million per mile, but the actual cost exceeded that. Burying power lines is so expensive in urban areas that most cities limit this practice to critical feeder circuits. Winter Park has projected the cost of burying the whole system at $67 million, but this is likely too low in light of the cost overruns encountered on the circuits already buried since 2007.

If Oliver Chapman and Loring Chase were building Winter Park today, they would probably place all of the power lines underground. But to retrofit an established, century-old city in this way strikes me as unnecessary and extravagant, and a poor use of public funds.

When residents voted to create a municipal power system in 2003, they also expressed support for burying the system to improve its reliability. No surprise there. They were reeling from years of poor service by Progress Energy and desperate for greater reliability. But that was then.

Winter Park has since buried 8 miles of critical feeder circuits, greatly improving the system’s reliability. And sound management by Director Jerry Warren has enhanced the reliability of the system’s overhead circuits, too. By proactively replacing old poles and wires before they fail, and by trimming vegetation, Mr. Warren and his linemen have proven that power lines don’t have to be underground to be reliable. As a result, public support for burying power lines has waned, as evidenced by the decline in interest in the city’s PLUG-IN cost-sharing program.

Beginning in 2015, the electric system expects to earn $2.8 million annually in net revenue. Rather than spend this money each year burying ever-smaller circuits serving ever-fewer customers, the city should instead spend it on general electric-system maintenance – and on reducing power rates, or on funding other city services, to ease pressure on the property tax. Many municipal-power cities enjoy lower property-tax rates because they fund various city services with electricity revenues. This policy could also help to save historic Winter Park homes, by reducing the city’s incentive to allow demolitions for McMansions.

Most municipal-power cities have concluded that burying key feeders, while leaving other circuits overhead, offers an acceptable balance of cost, reliability, and aesthetics. And this policy leaves the cities with cash to spend on other needs. Surely there are better ways to spend that $67 million in Winter Park.

Commission candidates who adopt this position will find it resonates well with the voters. Because, today, city voters would rather have cheaper electricity – or more money for various city services – than have an all-underground electric system.

[ Editor’s Note: Mr. Barrett originally submitted this letter to the Voice in December, 2013. Due to an oversight on our part, publication of the letter was delayed. We regret the error. ]

Tinker Marsh   February 25, 2014

I tried communicating with Sprinkle before the Ale House was built. She was very arrogant and condescending. I sure won’t make the mistake of voting for her again.

Ted Nugent   February 17, 2014

What is the point of requiring “signed” comments if (a) you don’t require a full name, or even a partial name (apparently initials are sufficient), and (b) you allow pseudonyms? Pseudonym means “false name”, as in fictitious name, as in you aren’t really requiring any name at all, so why bother?

Caleb Springer   January 30, 2014

I once played basketball many years ago for Rollins College. Having returned to the area recently I have begun to follow the team. Wednesday Rollins defeated a ferocious Florida Southern. Despite Southern fans aggressively parading all over the Warden Arena continually throughout the game Rollins found a way play their game. I have not been to a college game as intense and energetic as this battle other than when Butler defeated Indiana University in overtime years two years ago. The coaching staff for Rollins showed poise, and great sportsmanship throughout the contest. In additional to this amazing spectacle, I would like to add that behind the scenes, Coach Klusman, Kyle Frakes and Brad Ash exhibit great care and affection for not just current players but also previous ones. This is a rare gesture as most players, whom have finished their careers are soon forgotten. I would like to take a minute, as a member of the Rollins community to honor the Rollins players as well as their coaching staff.

Mac   December 11, 2013

Who on earth would move the lovely little wedding chapel a foot away from the railroad tract at the intersection New York and Comstock? This has to be the worst lot in Winter Park. Only Dan Bellows would have the audacity to do this and then compound the joke by setting up his own little non-profit historic association to solicit donations for the move. Another finger should be pointed at the city for permitting him to do this. This is yet another example of the jaundiced eye of City Hall for historic preservation.

I don’t know of a soul who would choose to marry in such a wretched location except for British train spotters.

Linda M. Grace   November 20, 2013

I thoroughly enjoy reading Winter Park Voice. I was stuck without a car for almost eight years so I rode my bike all over Winter Park. I have been watching the trees disappear right and left and NOT being replaced. I just wrote to the mayor and commissioners and told them that our mayor needs a nickname, something like Mayor Sprawl-ey, or perhaps Mayor Shrub-ley.

If the situation continues to get worse, there will be no trees at all on 17-92 or Fairbanks Avenue, or even in most of the residential neighborhoods. Keep up the fight to save our beautiful city.

Friend of Safety   October 17, 2013

In August 2013, The Orlando Business Journal reported that Winter Park zip code 32789’s crime rate is among the worst in all of Central Florida.

In the link below, if you click on the slideshow box with the yellow ribbon around it and page through, you will find Winter Park zip code 32789 boasting the seventh worst crime rate in all of Central Florida, and sharing the top ten with Parramore and other notorious Central Florida crime pits.

[ Link redacted ]

The Winter Park City Commission has been derelict for several years in taking responsibility for the horrific crime problem in Winter Park. Crime is never a regular agenda item at City Commission meetings and with very few exceptions never a topic of discussion there. This sadly, is par for the course for this elected City Commission that white washes nearly every problem in the City with its extravagant Public Relations budget paid for at taxpayer expense.

Crime rates are not based merely on total crime, but on crime relative to population.

By comparison, Winter Park’s crime rate is nearly ten times the crime rate of the nearby Fern Park / Casselberry zip code according to a separate Orlando Business Journal article.

Ruffled Peacock Feathers   September 24, 2013

Thanks to Jack Miles for the Blueprint to Winter Park Development article. I live and work in Winter Park and agree wholeheartedly. We are slowly erasing what we love the most about our community. (Or perhaps not so slowly)

I am all in favor of appropriate and responsible redevelopment , but that development has to be with an eye on our future. Not only the future of the city tax rolls, but the future of the character and charm that draws us to live in and love Winter Park. If we homogenize our surroundings and demolish our cherished history, what separates us from any other town with chains and boxy buildings? Park Avenue, I hope, will always be a gem. But do you think it will have the same draw if it is surrounded by Anytown, USA? Is that really what we want to be? Are those designs really proven to stand the test of time? Park space, lake access and quality and our history will always matter, big boxy buildings will not.

Our charm and our draw will continue if we focus on our residents’ quality of life and support local and specialty businesses.

To grow, the city should incentivize the kind of employers and chains that we desire in the areas where that kind of development is warranted. What is appropriate at I-4 and Fairbanks is very different than what we should find lining all our streets. You could maximize development near I4 or 436 with minimal impact on residents and maximum impact on revenues. Why not incentivize those areas that need it the most?

If what you want is a Baldwin Park, please move to Baldwin Park. The City’s latest consultant was from Miami. I don’t want to live in Miami.

Enough consultants, listen to the residents. We heard all about character and our quality of life when you were running for office and we want to hear it now from the dais.

Sally Flynn   September 13, 2013

I never read anything as accurately or so beautifully written, as Gil Wheeler’s column in The Voice. Thank you Gil!

Bonnie Jackson   September 11, 2013

I just read the article in the newspaper regarding amending the ordinance prohibiting dogs in Central Park in the City of Winter Park. In the article, Mayor Bradley was quoted as saying, “It’s less than 20 people who have been against the dog park and against having dogs in our community.” Not only are his comments not truthful (well over 20 people opposed a lake front dog park without fees), but his comments are divisive and irrelevant to the issue before the City Commission.

The issue is about allowing dogs in Central Park, the only park where dogs are not allowed. It is not about a dog park, and it is not about having dogs in our community. So why did he make those comments? By making extreme and divisive comments, he can manipulate the public into believing that his opposition is anti-dog or is attempting to ban dogs altogether. After all, it worked before.

Propaganda is a useful tool for a politician that prizes brevity above democracy. Polarizing a community with misinformation may be effective, but it is not leadership. Mayor Bradley has never advocated for a change in the ordinance to allow dogs in Central Park, and does not own a dog (at least not when first elected and for years thereafter).

Conversely, I have owned dogs my entire life. In fact, I own a large Collie that I rescued from the pound many years ago. I even scooped a dead dog out of the street near my former office on Park Avenue, then called the owner and brought the dog to my veterinarian. I had no idea how long the bleeding dog had been lying in the street, but I hoped that it might be saved and, if not, I did not want someone’s beloved pet flattened by the traffic.

I wonder if Mayor Bradley would stop for a bloody dog in the road. Despite the polarity in our affinity for dogs, I want to keep Central Park for people only. It is not about a dog park, or having dogs in the community. It is about changing a long-standing and well reasoned ordinance to accommodate one person who is not a resident, and the consequences of making that change. Let’s have an honest debate, not divide our community with propaganda.

Chele Hipp   September 10, 2013

I’d like to see a place to discuss the reduction (or even elimination) of revenue-driven traffic enforcement in Winter Park.

I live in the Trismen Terrace neighborhood and after years of watching the Traffic Division officers come to the base of my neighborhood day after day to catch cars gliding down the hill, I have become increasingly irritated with the Police Department. These cars are not a major safety risk. In fact, in the 11 years I’ve lived in my house, I have never seen an accident at the base of the hill. The unsafe place in the area is at Brewer’s Curve headed east towards Aloma.

The City is replete with police trap areas. Hello, no right turn on red at the I-4 Fairbanks exit! There are more useful things these officers could be doing in the City to increase safety and livability but they would not necessarily produce revenue. How about stationing a car at the corner of Park and Webster and having an officer remind people the rules of a 4-way stop?

These officers are likely operating under direction and would gladly be doing other things with their time. It would be nice to see our City reduce its expectancy of revenue from traffic enforcement in the Budget and then see the Chief of Police reduce the pressure on officers to produce that revenue.

Nancy Shutts   September 5, 2013

The commissioners will vote Monday on an ordinance allowing the city manager to give special exceptions for specific events allowing dogs in central park and other areas where dogs usually are not allowed. Dog people have 13 acres on a lake for free. They should be holding all their doggie art and fashion events there and not closing a street off Park Avenue and certainly not having access to our Central Park. Having 100 dogs in the park for several hours, no matter how conscientious the pick up, can only lead to issues. It already is a problem to keep dogs out of Central Park from people who just don’t care about the no dogs in the park signs. On a weekend day there can be 200 dogs at FPP. That is where these events need to be and NOT Park Avenue and PLEASE not Central Park.

Sally Flynn   June 12, 2013

All of you who enjoy reading the VOICE will want to read the article about Tom Childers and The Voice in this edition of The Winter Park Magazine.

Congratulations Tom for your wonderful interview!

Jackie Becker   May 2, 2013

Reading the articles in yesterday’s and today’s Orlando Sentinel about the cutbacks to the Seniors First program really made me stop and think. I was very happy to see that the City of Winter Park is going to continue to fund the meals at our Community Center which keeps our Seniors who participate from having to travel to Cavalry Towers or go without. I have written our City Manager, Parks Director and Commission thanking them. Perhaps there are groups within our City who could participate periodically in providing a meal for the group, I have already offered to do so and hope others will as well.

Rick Rudy   Apr. 24, 2013

Recently, developer Dan Bellows proposed to the Winter Park City Commission a plan for his Ravaudage development a so-called “Interlocal” agreement, which would return to his development 50% of all taxes collected by the city for the next 30 years. Mayor Ken Bradley pronounced the plan dead on arrival, as well he should.

In one of the most asinine statements I have ever heard from a public official, Commissioner Steven Leary opined “50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. If it doesn’t get developed, it’s going to be an eyesore and contribute nothing to the tax rolls.” This sounds like a grocery store Buy one get one free deal! Guess who would pick up the other 50% of the costs — the rest of Winter Park taxpayers. Doesn’t the full taxation on a property represent the cost of providing city services to that property? Maybe the deal should then include providing just 50% of all city services, i.e. putting out one of every two fires or answering every other call to law enforcement.

Next, he said “If it doesn’t get developed…” Is it reasonable to believe that absolutely nothing would be built on these 73 acres over the next 30 years? Mr. Bellows got his Community Development District, similar to what many other communities have approved. Let his development stand on its own two feet. If it is a viable endeavor, and I have every reason to believe that Mr. Bellows and his financial backers have confidence that it is, it neither needs nor deserves an extravagant handout from the city.

If reasoning such as this is the best that Mr. Leary has to offer, the citizens of Winter Park can only hope for the next election to get here before this commissioner can do any more damage to our city.

Commissioners Are Spying on You   Mar. 28, 2013

Winter Park residents no longer have to look in our rear view mirror to see if some creep is following us. Winter Park City Commissioners voted on March 25, 2013 to be the creeps in our rear view mirror, turning right every time we turn right, left every time we turn left, down the dark street, following us home. Winter Park Commissioners did this by approving the purchase of Automatic License Plate Readers. Intended to be spread across the city, these electronic license plate readers (to be purchased with $70,000 in Federal Forfeiture dollars) can capture thousands of Winter Park residents tag numbers daily, documenting where we go, who we visit, etc. The license tag numbers are automatically logged into a computer data base detailing every Winter Park resident, every time we pass one of the unmarked license plate readers, the day, time, and location of each reading.

The system will track the daily movements of every Winter Park resident’s comings and goings and store the information in a government computer where prying eyes can discover any Winter Park resident’s daily routine, simply by typing in their tag number, and it will show a detailed record of everywhere they have been in the city. While promoted as a public safety device that can match tag numbers with those with outstanding warrants, they system primarily violates the privacy and safety of law abiding residents as the law abiding are over 99% of drivers. And there is no evidence that the license plate readers make us any safer. In fact, the presence of a huge data base subject to misuse or abuse detailing personal information about the daily routines of every Winter Park resident makes us all more vulnerable to crime.

The crime rate is now at a 40 year low. We don’t need these Automated License Plate readers and don’t want them in our community. Tell your Winter Park Commissioner to quit acting like a creep following you around town.

Sally Flynn   Feb. 27, 2013

Three Votes For the Developer

It was disappointing at the city commission meeting (Feb 25), to see Commissioner Sprinkel vote for the change in zoning on the West Side. Once again Dan Bellows (developer) wins over the residents. Commissioner Sprinkel began the discussion by saying she could not support the project in good faith and had driven in the neighborhood and “would not want it in her neighborhood”. I really thought she was going to vote independently of the Bradley – Leary team. NOT SO! After motions were made, amended and withdrawn, The Mayor had successfully manipulated what he wanted and the voting block was intact!

To be sure, instead of changing the zoning from R1 (single family) to R3, it was modified to R2 but the results are the same. Bellows can build townhouses in a single family neighborhood.

This is just one more example of the Block of Three…voting for developer over the citizens. Remember the land swap? The petition by hundreds of citizens ignored and the same for the YMCA expansion? So it continues. When will three commissioners stand up for the citizens of Winter Park, not the developers?

Losers   Feb. 13, 2013

Winter Park Commissioners lose first attempt to get a federal court to uphold their ban on The First Amendment. At Monday’s Commission meeting the City Manager reported that the court refused Commissioners demands that the court uphold their No-Free-Speech zone. He reported the case was sent to mandatory mediation scheduled for March 20, forcing Commissioners to the table to acknowledge and respect The First Amendment rights of the protesters and Winter Park residents…

Roberta Willenkin   Jan. 11, 2013

Dear Editor,

Property rights of Winter Park homeowners should be preserved and their landscaping decisions protected. I believe the City of Winter Park should set a good example of tree preservation on all its residential streets and municipal easements. This means making it a priority to fund its Public Works tree division to maintain, treat and, yes, remove dead or dying oak trees. It is totally unfair to burden the homeowner with penalties when they replace dead, dying or diseased trees on their own property. On the roadsides in my neighborhood there are many huge oak trees which have cracked and split sidewalks, upended brick driveways and streets, and spread precariously harmful dead or diseased branches over rooftops. This situation neither enhances Winter Park’s tree canopy image nor increases property values.

Respectfully submitted,


Sally Flynn   Dec. 10, 2012

Geri Throne’s column is so on target. I wish every resident of Winter Park could read it and understand what it is saying. The decisions coming from this commission are very worrisome for the future of our “village”. Thank you, Geri for explaining it so well.

Nancy Shutts   Dec. 2, 2012

As you finally get to hear from the “tree team” please keep this in mind. I cannot express with strong enough adjectives how much I hate the way the city is scalping our ancient trees for power line clearance. Winter Park Rd, now Glenridge and Lakemont, all gateways to our community and major corridors, that did not meet the first 5 years of methodology for undergrounding.

I now have to look forward for probably 5-10 yrs of horrible stupid branches with very few leaves. Our City of Trees and wonderful canopy is becoming words I will not print!!! I realize money and budget determine everything but something has to happen NOW to get our tree canopy on track for future generations.

Please figure out how we can remove most of these ancient trees along the major corridors like Winter Park Rd, Glenridge and Lakemont NOW and start the replanting. Perhaps we need to sell Progress Point and use the money for trees and quiet gates for commuter rail.

Deede Sharpe   Nov. 15, 2012

At the November 12th WP Commissioners’ Meeting, I spoke on the costs to me as a Winter Park resident when my neighbor cuts down his trees, as Code Enforcement/Permit records will verify that he has sought to do twice in the 4-5 years he has lived here. If he succeeds, my costs are tangible and expensive, as well as aesthetic. I would like to reiterate what my neighbor’s “property rights” would cost me, as a homeowner: 1. The approximately $10,000 we spent last year on landscaping for a mostly shady yard; 2. Roughly 20% of my A.C. costs, which house shade saves (approximately $45 in savings per summer month); 3. The birds and other wildlife, the ambience and sense of place, which studies have shown to be (a) greatly enhanced by trees, and (b) worth 30-40% in property values. Conservatively pricing my house at $900,000, I could lose between $300,000-$400,000, if the trees were gone.

This is no hypothetical conjecture. My neighbor has tried twice in the past to take down comparatively young, healthy laurel oaks. Fortunately, he has not succeeded, so far. I would like to agree with Commissioner Leary’s faith that Winter Parkers will protect our trees: I just want to make sure the restrictions are there, when they don’t! Traditionally, individual property rights have been important, to the extent that they don’t interfere with the rights of others! Let’s weigh property rights against damages to the neighborhood and the neighbor’s property…BOTTOM LINE: Roughly $360,270 in direct out-of-pocket costs to me, as the homeowner, if my neighbor feels free to cut his trees. (Would we overlook a theft of that amount?) This is just a dollar-and-cents analysis, not mentioning citywide values, aesthetic and monetary, if Winter Park allows the depredation of its trees. Could we please consider balancing “property rights” with the rights of neighbors and the community?

Lungman   Nov. 12, 2012

I have tried to set up a meeting with the mayor for over a year to discuss the health issues related to public smoking on park avenue. He refuses to meet with me. If you walk down park avenue on the weekends you will have smoked about one cigarette. Second hand smoke exposure kills more each year than all of the illegal drugs combined and I am shocked someone who runs a hospital kisses the backsides of the smokers and refuses to address the issue.

Mary Ann Plante   Nov. 12, 2012

It is time that WP learned, the oaks planted are not good for long. WP needs good arborous to teach them. plante flowering trees, palms. the oaks do not work and people are tired of fees because these oaks should have been replaced years ago. Other communities laugh at us as a new storm brings them down.

Jon   Nov. 7, 2012

Re: WP Voice News Alert — Anti-Protest Ordinance Triggers Lawsuit


Barbara Bytell   Oct. 30, 2012

While many of the issues that have been discussed this year at Winter Park City Commission meetings have been disconcerting to say the least, the most troubling was the picketing outside of the Winter Park home of Jenna Tosh, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, by individuals that were not in agreement with the positions and policies of the Planned Parenthood organization.

I expressed my thoughts regarding the picketing in an email I sent to the Mayor and City Commissioners. These same individuals have now commenced litigation, based on the freedom of speech rights embodied in the U.S. Constitution, against each of the members of the City Commission, who valiantly voted for the amending of Section 62-77 of the municipal code ordinance to prohibit the type of activity represented by the picketing so that citizens of Winter Park are able to feel secure within their homes and around their residential property. I would argue that these same plaintiff individuals, if faced with a similar situation that Jenny Tosh had to endure, would be considerably less enthusiastic about their constructionist and absolutism approach in interpreting the US Constitution.

Furthermore, throughout our nation’s history, both Congress and the Courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States in Frisby v Schultz, as cited in the Winter Park Voice, have placed curbs on an individual’s or group’s reliance on the literal language of the US Constitution in order to promote the commonweal or common good of all United States citizens. The actions taken by the City Commission in amending the local ordinance are amply supported by history and many legal precedents. The type of picketing conducted by the plaintiffs has questionable legal underpinnings and is contrary to the sense of common decency that has made the United States of America the country we are today.

There are many avenues available to express and obtain support for one’s point of view, including the local and national press, social and other media, information forums, and active participation in the political process to elect candidates with similar points of view without having to create hostile living environments for fellow citizens.

Mike Palumbo   Oct. 30, 2012

Free speech is essential in this country. It is a freedom that is in danger more and more. Political correct speech is the norm and you can not talk to a group of people on any subject and not offend someone and get reprimanded or even sued for it. We have become the United States of the Offended. That being said once you physically prevent someone from entering their home that is now assault. Blocking them touching them the people having to push their way through a group is no longer just speech.

Scaring little children at their home where they should be safe is not serving any purpose. People that say they are so concerned with children and put fear in their hearts and give them nightmares is disgusting. You can protest at their work place. The place where the offensive deed happens is acceptable. Frightening a single persons family is going to far.

SWomble   Oct. 19, 2012

Deja Vous All Over Again – October 8 Meeting

Here we go again except this time it isn’t the dog park, but the WPHA and Casa Feliz. Like every other Commission, the minute they get in power they start shuffling the cards their way regardless of the fact there has been no outcry from the citizenry to cut funding or eliminate a program.

The Friends of Casa Feliz own the house, the City owns the land. It would help if Commissioners, instead of jumping to conclusions, would ask those who were there what happened and the terms. Obviously City staff is interested today just like they were when we moved the house to get their paws on CF’s money. It’s noted the City did nothing to help save, move or restore the home. It was a labor of love from the citizens and one angel on city staff.

As Barbara Devane once said (my favorite Commissioner) it’s a city’s responsibility to lift up their people, foster cultural arts and embrace their heritage.

I cannot figure out who on city staff – behind closed doors – continue to rattle this cage.

Jack Miles   Oct. 11, 2012

Since trees are an important part of what makes Winter Park different and special it did not take much for my spouse to talk me into attending the Tuesday evening meeting on the proposed new tree ordinance. Several things were striking:

1. Folk generally agree that the tree canopy of Winter Park is important and something we should nurture and maintain

2. It was unclear and not stated what the town or whoever is sponsoring/supporting a rewrite of the ordinance is looking to accomplish

3. Given its importance there is a need for improved maintenance of the tree canopy in Winter Park

4. The town needs to clearly assess who has accountability for maintaining right of way trees (the town had a practice of maintaining the trees for years and stopped when budget reductions made it impossible for them to continue the practice) and expecting property owners to consistently and appropriately do so is will probably not deliver consistent results

5. The proposed new ordinance seems terribly flawed relative to consistency of what will be removed and what is to be replaced and this fact was clearly articulated by Marc Hagle; his presentation on this was concise and factual

6. When a permit is obtained by a contractor, the resident/owner may or may not know their rights and obligations relative to replacement as was evidenced by a resident removing a camphor tree which is an invasive species yet the existing or new ordinance does not take that into consideration

7. Safety is a real issue and falling trees and branches seem to be more than an occasional event and have been traumatic experiences for some of our neighbors. We have personally had to remove trees which were a hazard to our home and at risk of falling into the street and there should be a difference between removal of a tree that has reached end of life or is hazardous and a perfectly fine tree that is being removed for “convenience”. In making the determination town employees will need to establish guiding principles to follow and have an appeals process for those who disagree.

The practical side of who is responsible for what relative to tree maintenance is complicated and unclear. If you ask four town folks who should know for a yes or no answer on who is responsible for maintenance of right of way trees you will probably get four different answers. While town employees were very well intended and on Tuesday night they responded to issues and questions on exceptions, permits, hardships and the like; the reality is they are NOT the individuals residents interact with when dealing with these issues so their assertive replies on what can and should be done are not reality; I know that first hand.

With the importance of the tree canopy in Winter Park the department and folks accountable for this should be a stand alone function; not a part of Parks and Recreation, perhaps functionally associated with Code Enforcement but it is very different and should be treated that way.

I hope that since he was the only member of the commission not present for this discussion that Mayor Bradley engage in an appropriate dialog with the commissioned that were and the commission send the proposed ordinance back with clear guidance and direction as to objectives and expected outcomes including the facts around the number of trees removed, replaced by planting a tree per the ordinance and the funds collected in lieu of planting.

And a footnote; considerable money was spent on town hall renovations and to have a room full of folks in the chamber without sufficient air conditioning was just not right….the folks who should have been able to handle that were in the room so no excuse for that!

[Editor’s Note: Mr. Miles informed WPV that this letter has also been sent to the Winter Park/Maitland Observer, Orlando Sentinel and City Commissioners.]

Lori Pearson-Wise   Oct. 9, 2012

I am in total agreement with Carol Cooper and Randy Knight that something has to be done about all of the dead trees in Winter Park that are creating a hazard for our citizens, not to mention our cars and homes. There are so many dead trees that I will not risk walking my dogs whenever it is windy for fear of being crushed by a tree or giant branch. Three cars in my neighborhood have been damaged/crushed by falling trees. When we contacted the City a couple years ago to check on one of our trees, we were told that it was fine. Of course, soon afterwards, a huge branch (the size of a tree!) fell and crushed somone’s car. We then paid someone to come out and look at that same tree and were told that it was dead. Which brings me to my next point. It is very, very expensive to homeowners to have to pay the huge expense of cutting down dead trees that are owned by the City. I have a feeling that it is going to take someone getting killed for something to be done. And, if and when that occurs, expensive won’t even begin to describe the ensuing litigation.

Lastly, it is a really poor reflection on our city to see Mayor Bradley address a city commissioner (Cooper) so rudely and sarcastically. That is not the image of Winter Park government that people want to have. His rudeness has been a constant thread throughout his tenure. Winter Park is classier than that. I would also add that, in response to his questioning the need for the city to spend more money on trees, I would argue that it is certainly a more worthwhile investment than hiring outside consultants for union-busting or PR advice. The best public relations for our city would be to show how its government takes care of its citizens by protecting their safety and by spending their money wisely.

[Editor’s Note: Ms. Pearson-Wise sent this letter to WPV noting that originally “…This letter appeared in the 9/27 Winter Park/Maitland Observer.”]

marti miller   Sep. 23, 2012

Did I hear correctly…that the mayor said in a video something like, “It doesn’t matter what the citizens think (in the long run), it only matters what this commission thinks”. Which is exactly how this will all turn out anyway. I did however, clearly hear him say, many, many, times that there has been so much mis-information being given out there. But never would say what that was. Too much of that going on. What we really need to know is: What’s wrong with the current ordinance? Why does it need fixing? What will the new ordinance accomplish? Let’s hope this meeting will clear all this up. Higher fees will discourage removal of our trees. Let’s have respect for our forefathers who planted them.

NL   Sep. 21, 2012

I am so glad someone is video taping the Commission meetings. The citizenry has for a long time needed to hear and see the Commission discuss the issues. I hope they do have more public forums. We need to have more input and our voices need to be heard. Thanks for the terrific work you are doing for us! Keep at it and it will pay off. I encourage my friend to read your very informative emails. I am glad you are guarding the hen house because the foxes are all around.

From the Middle   Sep. 21, 2012

Commenting generally on property rights vs. the good of the community: I subscribe to the idea that my rights end where my neighbor’s begins. If the city needs to pass ordinances to try to insure the rights of individual property owners and/or the rights, safety and well being of the community at large, so be it. We should all strive to be empathetic and truly try to understand our neighbors point of view. That’s the way civilized society is supposed to work. About the trees and the tree ordinance:

Imagine a landscape without any trees, or perhaps one with cookie cutter little trees in every yard. When you go to the mall or the theater or the grocery store, do you look for a shady spot under a tree to park under? Isn’t it cooler under there! Have youe ver walked in the park or even down the street in your neighborhood and thought how wonderfull the air smelled and how good it felt in the shade of the beautiful Live Oak growing in your neighbors yard? What if all the driveways in your neighborhood nearly touched the property line because every property owner built the biggest house they could fit within the allowable building area and then maxed out the rest of the yard with pervious pavement and swimming pools? Where did all those beautiful trees go? Would you maybe give up that evening walk to say indoors, in the air conditioning? And why has your power bill gone up so much anyhow? The city allows one to build out to around a 50% impervious lot coverage. The problem with this in many, many cases is the way the left over perviuos area is chopped up. Decks or driveways with large grout lines and ribbon driveways that are menat to meet pervious area requirements do not lend themselves to growing trees.

Now the responsibility to find places to plant trees and to maintain them has been shifted to the city. Have you noticed the condition of the trees growing in our rights-of-way? True many of these trees are the Laurel Oaks that are probably reaching the end of their life cycle, but then many are not. Some just don\’t have enough rooting room to thrive and have gone into premature decline. In many cases the decline has been accelerated by storm damage, drought and pathogen infestation due to being stressed. On top of that they cause infrastructure damage because they are trying to get a foot hold in a five foot wide planting strip. It is important to realize that the trees on my property affect the quality of your life and the value of your property, your neighbors property and the ambiance of our community. Our trees are such a large part of our city\’s identity and create value and a sense of well being for all of us. The ordinance we currently have in place was designed to make people think hard before removing a valuble asset that benefits the community. If an individual is still bent on removing those trees, they may. The monetary requirements in the code help fund replanting and survival maintenance of those trees that the city now finds itself responsible for. The Tree Preservation Board may hear hardship cases and adjust the monetary requirements if so warranted. In this writers opinion, the code is not terribly unfair and the city seems to do a pretty good job of administering it. More focus should be placed on requireing the pervious area of our building lots to be large enough to actually support tree growth and developing a sustainable canopy. Use of pervious pavements and petitioning homeowners to allow side walks, (or trees), to be placed on their property to allow more room for growth wolud help a lot. We need quit bickering about the tree ordinance and look at the bigger picture. The future we leave our grandchildren may be growing outside our door.

Pitt Warner   Sep. 10, 2012

I understand the passion people have for trees, but let’s reserve the passion for the trees in the right of way and not ones located inside our private yards. People are not cutting down trees unless they are a danger, dead or absolutely necessary for an addition or improvement to a property. In 30 years of residential real estate sales I have never heard a potential owner say, “Gee, I can’t wait to move in and cut the trees down.” People love trees. But if John and Mary Homebuyer want to pay $800,000 for a home and cut down an oak tree, they should be allowed to do it. Trees are wonderful. But private property rights are “more wonderful”. Winter Park is on the verge of being run like a humongeous, out of control homeowner’s association. Whatever happened to “a man’s home is his castle” ? (I know, I know. That’s an elistist, sexist cliche but it’s from England. Blame them) If my neighbor wants to remove a tree, that’s their decision, not mine.

How about a positive, reasonable alternative to a punitive, bureaucratic tree ordinance? Why not a property tax credit for replanting oaks of a significant size. The city bills me $100 for streetlights. Why not a 5 year credit for tree plantings? Or maybe a reduced water bill or electric bill so homeowners will water the trees without worrying about water costs? Let’s figure out a way to incentivize tree plantings. It’s more harmonious and productive.

Sally Flynn   Sep. 4, 2012

I was very interested in Mike Galyean’s letter. The Virginia Heights neighborhood has more college rentals than before, also. So far not too much of a problem but still there are some noisy parties and lots of cars parked. I thought there was a limit as to how many non related individuals could live in a house in the residential neighborhoods.

Mike Galyean   Aug. 29, 2012

My wife and I have lived in the College Quarter neighborhood of Winter Park for 35 years. “College Quarter” is the neighborhood roughly bounded by Rollins College on the East, Pennsylvania Ave. on the West, Holt Ave. on the North and Vitoria/Huntington (9th Grade Center) on the South. We live in a wonderful section of town and are very proud of the quaint “old fashioned” Winter Park neighborhood we live in. Obviously, there are a number of Rollins College students who live around us…that has always been the case. We have generally enjoyed the younger neighbors we’ve had and have interacted with a good many over the years.

The number of rental properties in our neighborhood has steadily grown over the years. Holt Avenue, for instance, now has about 80% non-resident owners. Some of the issues created by so many rental properties, most of which are occupied by Rollins students, are obvious. Other issues are not quite as obvious, but equally frustrating for the permanent residents. A few of the issues are:

— Late night party noise, especially in the yards of residences.
— Party debris (cups, cans, bottles, pizza containers) around the houses and along streets the next day.
— Three renters often grows to six with live-in boyfriends/girlfriends, creating serious parking issues.
— Improper use of garbage cans/carts and recycle bins…left out on the street continually.
— Loud late night “pass through” traffic returning from house parties and area entertainment establishments.

We usually do the right thing and refer problems to the non-resident owner or to the renters/students themselves. But after one or two attempts to do this without success, the result is often frustration and sleepless nights.

Even though Rollins is not legally responsible for their students living off campus, I feel the college could be more helpful in educating and overseeing the conduct of their students in the neighborhood. The WP Code Enforcement and Police Department have always given us support, but it’s frustrating to have to be contacting them over and over for the same issues. I would recommend that a squad car be assigned to the neighborhood in the evenings, especially Thursday – Saturday. Just the presence of a police vehicle would often be enough to get attention. Perhaps a Code Enforcement officer could make a swing through the neighborhood once a day to note houses with party debris, garbage/recycle containers left on the street, cars on lawns and across sidewalks, etc.

We have a neighborhood association that will be working on these issues, but we need the cooperation of all the neighbors, non-resident owners, Rollins College, Code Enforcement and the Police Department to help solve this growing problem. We enjoy living close to the college, downtown Winter Park, many fine dining and entertainment establishments. We only wish some of the part-time residents would remember that they live in a residential neighborhood with neighbors who take pride in the appearance of our “College Quarter,” and perhaps they could take an equal amount of pride in where they live.

Steve Andrew   Aug. 29, 2012

This was a park that my family could use. I live only blocks away from it and had my 40th Birthday party there. I used to take my kids in a small boat out on the lake and we had cook-outs and family gatherings with friends and family. This all changed when it was taken over by dogs.

It is no longer usable by me or my family. It only brings back sad memories when I walk by it and think it used to be one of the only two “public” lake front {parks} in Winter Park that I could enjoy. The other one is by Rollins where I can drop in my Jet ski and we still can have family outings.

I don’t understand why I pay taxes, yet dogs have the lake front gatherings and I no longer can.

Nancy Shutts   Aug. 23, 2012

Where are the improvements and amenities for the onleash part of our 23 acre waterfront Fleet Peeple Park? The commission will vote at Monday’s meeting how to fund $170,000 for a new ADA bathroom, special dog wash attached to the building and a lift station. The problem is the Friends of the dog park were unable to raise the expected matching $40,000 they gave to the City 6 months ago so there is only $125,000 budgeted.

The commissioners will decide Monday what projects to delay so the contract can move forward now. Also the city plans to absorb the $27,000 cost of the lift station with inhouse/inkind funds. On top of this funding issue there is no discussion of when the onleash 2 acre area will get a pavilion, new structured parking, and a relocated boat dock put in the budget. A pavilion runs at least $70,000. The city has a grant for a Kaboom playground at this park and hopes to build it next spring. Improvements to that area have to happen before a playground can be built. Of course, if we just moved the existing fence a little to expand the general public area to include the existing large pavilion then the playground could go next to the existing pavilion.

The city helped the Friends of the dog park install a fancy 4 foot sign along the Baldwin Park Trail asking for donations to this project and not a dime came in. I guess everyone figured the city would continue funding all the improvements, so why contribute. Two surveys showed that 75% of the users of the dog park are non-residents so your tax dollars are being enjoyed by those who pay nothing. Let’s make sure the commissioners realize the tiny 2 acre area of this beautiful 23 acre waterfront park for the general public gets their improvements budgeted now.

Patty Heidrich   Aug. 15, 2012

I stopped by City Hall today while on Park Avenue. WOW!! Great job, Commissioners, Randy, staff!! What a long overdue improvement!

Robert Leaman  Aug. 2, 2012

The power lines in my neighborhood run in the rear of our property. I HAD two very large stands of Old Hamii Bamboo in both rear corners of my yard, these stands were approximately 8 years old. A few weeks ago I came home and both stands were cut off at ground level, without any prior knowledge being given. Should this be the policy of city or should I have at least been given some knowledge of what was to come? And could a less agressive prunning been preformed?

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