Progress Point Survey

Never Asked, ‘Should We Keep It Green?’

Guest Columnist Leslie K. Poole / June 25, 2021

Winter Park today has an extraordinary opportunity to create more park space amid the metropolitan area’s sea of asphalt and development. The mayor and city commissioners are considering the future of four-acre Progress Point, an old utility department site at the intersection of Orange Ave. and Denning Dr.

Residents polled about Progress Point

In March residents were polled about their preferences for its redevelopment. Possibilities included a massive parking garage and retail space the size of a typical Publix grocery story. As if the City needs to be a landlord to companies that will compete with existing businesses.

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The missing question

At no time have planners considered making the property all green space, with trees, benches, and walkways that enhance our growing need to get outdoors to de-stress, breathe and soak in nature’s beauty. Sadly, city pollsters didn’t even give residents that option.

Residents responded anyway

What the poll did show was that residents value tree shade, gardens, lawns, and native plantings as part of any design. That supports numerous national studies that show people want and love park space. It makes urban living more peaceful. It raises nearby property values. It enhances shopping and dining experiences for anyone who visits the area.

Progress Point – missing link in the Emerald Necklace

Even more wonderful, a Progress Point Park would be far more than a neighborhood space—it would be another link in a citywide necklace of “green” gems, further enhancing Winter Park’s livability. Imagine walking or riding a bike from Mead Botanical Garden to Progress Point to Martin Luther King Jr. Park to Central Park and beyond. That is a vision that few cities have—or are able to create.

As a founding trustee of the Winter Park Land Trust, which aims to increase usable park space in the city, I can report that the Trust has voted to endorse “maximum green space” at Progress Point. We must urge city leaders to reconsider current proposals that contain development.

Add more park to Winter Park

It’s time to stop and smell the roses in Central Park that make our city so unique. Ask the Mayor and Commissioners to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to add more “park” to Winter Park. Our grandchildren and their grandchildren will thank us.

Leslie Poole is an award winning journalist and Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Rollins College. 

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