Marathon Monday Stretches into Terrible Tuesday

Meeting Will Continue on Thursday, Jan. 16

Marathon Monday Stretches into Terrible Tuesday

by Anne Mooney / January 14, 2020

Yesterday’s estimate of a five-and-a-half-hour Commission meeting missed the mark by a mile. For an unprecedented 11 hours, Commissioners struggled to make sense of two of the largest projects ever undertaken by this city – and failed.

OAO Discussion Continued to Thursday, Jan. 16

At 2:45 a.m., Commissioner Greg Seidel finally moved to pull the plug on the meeting, and the Commission agreed to ‘continue’ the Orange Avenue Overlay discussion on Thursday, January 16, at 11:00 a.m. Commissioners were advised to block out approximately four hours for the Thursday meeting.

At Thursday’s Continuance, Commissioners will vote on somewhere between 40 and 50 proposed amendments to the OAO ordinances.

As of this writing, the Thursday meeting is not on the January schedule of City meetings. Check the City website for updates or changes in dates and times.

Canopy Project

Earlier in the evening, the Canopy project met a similar fate. After an extended but inconclusive back-and-forth with the owner’s representative and the contractor, Brasfield & Gorrie, followed by the customary back-and-forth among the Commissioners regarding the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), the item was tabled until the January 27 Commission meeting.

Commissioner Greg Seidel requested a Commission workshop to discuss such items as the contingency fund and possible sources of funds for the project. Likely funding sources include issuing the remaining $2 Million in bonds, the CRA, and the City’s General Fund. To date, the City has raised only about $2 Million of the promised $5.4 Million in donations.

Seidel also requested the results of Brasfield & Gorrie’s latest three large projects, to compare the (GMP) with actual costs upon delivery.

Agenda Angst

How the Canopy project and the Orange Avenue Overlay ended up on the same agenda is anyone’s guess, though there must be someone at City Hall who knows. The sheer volume of discussion and the number of amendments proposed is a clear indication that neither project is at a point where sufficient information has been digested for the Commission to come to a decision. The City needs to finish baking these cakes before anyone else cuts into them.

Record Crowd – Citizens Turned Away

Hundreds of people showed up at City Hall to listen or to speak. The building, including the downstairs lobby, was at capacity, and many citizens had to be turned away. Communications Director Clarissa Howard went through the crowd in the lobby and escorted those who wanted to speak up to the Commission Chambers and, in most cases, secured seating for them.

A Suggestion

Last night’s meeting demonstrated the folly of putting two mega-projects – especially ones around which there is a lot of positive and negative energy – on the same agenda.

The suggestion is the crafting of an ordinance that states, when a meeting is scheduled on a date certain, the meeting must be called to order and adjourned upon that date.


  • author's avatar

    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

  • author's avatar

8 replies
  1. Joanne Werntz MD says:

    Could the City Commission schedule these meetings/discussions in a larger venue so that everyone who wants to attend can have a seat?

  2. Sally Flynn says:


    I spent the first couple of hours in the overflow room 200. I later found a seat in

    chamber. I was luckier than many others.

    The Mayor and the City Manager set the Agenda for all commission meetings and

    had to know that these two projects are very divisive for the city and putting them

    on the same Agenda was worse than poor was stupid.

    Whether you are for or against these projects, each one needed it’s own hearing.

    It was not fair to put the Commissioners, staff and citizens through such a debacle

    I, personally hope that each of you will remain civil to each other as we go forward

  3. Seidel's Sneakiness says:

    A company like Brasfield & Gorrie should be able to provide a list of ALL their projects during the last 3 years, and how well each was managed to original budget.

  4. Go for the Gold says:

    It’s time for the Commission to take this show on the road!

    The Guiness Book of World Records could have a World’s Longest City Commission Meeting record.

    Winter Park and the Commission could become world famous – OVERNIGHT!!!

    Why stop at 11 hours?

    Next time they could try for 11 days, 11 weeks , or even 11 months!!!

    And be the WORLD RECORD holder.

  5. Beth Hall says:

    Completely aside from being an outlandish show of disrespect for the citizens (a/k/a VOTERS)

    the net effect of this eleven hour meeting was to effectively stifle citizen voices. Knight and Leary

    have discovered yet another effective way to deny citizens the right to participate in city


    Many showed up, with a wish to be heard, but they were denied. If they could not access the

    venue or if they could not remain until the wee hours of the morning, the result is the same

    as if their mouths had been duct taped closed.

    Yes, a few of us remained and stepped to the mike. But the number who spoke to the OAO

    was paltry compared to the size of the original crowd. Every additional hour of this meeting

    saw the numbers dwindle.

    An agenda is not a natural disaster. By that I mean that unlike natural disasters, agendas

    are predictable. They are formulated with intent. The commission majority understands

    the OAO must be passed NOW or there is every chance the next commission will not pass it.

    Hence the need to drag us all through the night.

    A couple sitting commissioners aspire to future elected office. When you go to the polls I would

    suggest that you recall this meeting and the effect it had on citizen input. Then vote accordingly.

  6. Oligarchs Among Us says:

    The robust push to move this project (and vote) forward at warp speed is telling. There are three —yes—less than fingers on one hand—large property owners. Then there are thre rest of us. The rest of us who pay the price—on a daily basis—24/7–365/year. Seems to me we—the rest of us—have the majority vote. Why then doesn’t this city commission do the math. (what—no calculator handy?)

  7. Winter Park 2050 says:

    The City Commission set in motion today with approval of the Orange Avenue Overlay, the first domino to fall in their plans to make Winter Park into a major tourist destination.

    It wasn’t that long ago, Las Vegas was just another sleepy little town.

    Here’ is the Las Vegas overlay today:


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