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.
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.
Of course, we all value “tree shade, gardens, lawns, and native plantings.”
The problem is that a park only works between the railroad tracks and Orange Avenue when a reason to visit exists. The original OAO offered concentration of the EXISTING residential entitlements to incentivize the construction of less than 400 apartment/condo units so as to provide the people living there a lovely 1.5-acre park space that would complement the area, as does Shady Park and Central Park in Hannibal Square and Park Avenue, respectively.
Unfortunately, this professionally developed plan with years of citizen input was hijacked by the current commissioners who have zero planning experience (let alone governance experience) and by a group of “conserve at any cost” extremists who buy into marketing nonsense like “emerald necklace.”
Of course, we want to extend the multi-use path to Mead Garden as has been planned and funded for years but never completed.
Of course, we want to use part of the city owned property at Progress Point as a park, serving as a focal point for residents who LIVE THERE.
As things look now, we will be wasting a 4-acre city owned property valued at between $5 to $10 million to appease extremists while we ADD TO THE CITY BUDGET rather than leverage this asset for the broader benefit of all Winter Park residents that includes private investment that adds to our tax rolls while providing additional amenities people will actually use.
Time for the city commission to stop appeasing and start leading with some common sense.
Whenever I hear Peter Weldon use the word leverage it scares the hell out of me. How come? One word: Ravaudage. If allowing more and more concrete, bricks, mortar and asphalt could ever provide one ounce of tax or any other kind of relief as Weldon and the vocal band of “former mayors” (how many mayors this time? Is it 6? Or 7?) keep preaching that it will, we would all be seeing tax credits on our WP tax bill by now, from Ravaudage alone. But that simply has not happened and it will never happen.
Future generations of Winter Parkers will not thank us for the office building Weldon & Co ushered in at 1111 W Fairbanks Ave. They would have thanked us for 1.2 more acres of city owned park land added to MLK Park.
Take Weldon’s advice on Progress Point? Take the former mayors’ advice on the post office acquisition? Naw.
If BIG development could ever be the answer, Ravaudage would be proof of same. Instead, Weldon and his fellow commission buds gave Ravaudage over $1 Million for infrastructure.
Let’s keep as much of Porgress Point green as we can reasonably do. And. let’s work hard to acquire the Post Office as city owned land to use as we see fit to do.
What a load of BS. Have you ever been to Beverly Hill, CA. There’s a park right in the middle of a 6 way intersection similar to Progress Point called Will Rogers Park. It’s fantastic. Breaks up the urban concrete sprawl and brings some sophistication to the area.
You don’t keep building Baldwin Park garbage construction up with Subways and ATT stores. That’s not character. It’s blight. Brings nothing to the area. Only benefits the developers.
32789 maintains it’s value because of the green spaces. They’re trying to purchase the Post Office, but don’t own the property. The City of WP already owns the Progress Point property.
Build a park with a nice fountain in the middle. I’ll be the first to donate to it’s construction.
Thank God for “extremists” who put people ahead of profits. Where would we be today without them?
What if the McKean family had put a food court where Central Park is instead of making it a park?
Boston has an emerald necklace from the Fenway to the Boston Common. That’s what great cities do.
Thank you Leslie Poole for your excellent explanation of the value of our city creating a larger park at “Progress Point” that will link other city parks with shaded bikeways and walkways and enhance our opportunities for safe transit among them. We have an abundance of shops and restaurants and opportunities for significant parks are truly rare. Please communicate with your mayor and commissioners to demonstrate our residents’ desire and support for a beautiful park with lovely walking spaces in a shady landscaped haven from urban impacts.
Nonsense. The multi use path (which I led the charge to extend from Fairbanks, to Orange Ave, to Mead Garden) is the connection that matters. Progress Point is less than 1200 feet from Mead Garden, a 40 acre passive park.
Enough with the smooth jazz marketing nonsense. Let’s do something at Progress Point that benefits all residents of Winter Park.
In reply to Leslie Poole’s important question: YES! Progress Point (todays a dark spot in a magnificent location in Winter Park) is overdue to become a green and colorful garden to contribute to the sustainable wellbeing of WP residents and visitors. Residents have waited long enough to see progress in Progress Point!
Please give your ideas .
The City should add another short poll to collect your thoughts and the rebuttals who would like more green space
I am sure if the City wants full input they could be willing to add this.
It is an easy fix and addition
I submitted my ideas in the original poll and found it easy to use and add new ideas.
At some point, the in fighting within Winter Park needs to cease and truly achieve inclusion of all residents personal needs.
It is complicated as you know.
It can be done.
All of us want the best for Winter Park.
Let’s be a leader and and set apart from the name calling that is all too prevalent in Florida.
Thanks for your service. I would welcome you and your critics to become unified.
Let’s all relax and move forward together
Can you say “meaningless narrative?” – a green and colorful garden to contribute to the sustainable wellbeing of WP residents and visitors. Oh Boy!
No one except the profiteers is interested in yet another ugly vacant commercial box. Stop the greed pigs trying to turn our town into a parking lot.
I am surprised so many people want grass/lawn. Nevada just passed a ban on grass in many areas especially Las Vegas. It’s time to get rid of the grass.
There are many beautiful ground covers that could be used instead of grass along with pavers and pebbles.
Nevada? Pavers? Pebbles? It’s desert there. There’s no water to sustain vegetation.
Looked out your window lately? This is Florida. It’s . . . raining.
And the grass is green. Sooo green.
NATURAL PARK APPROACH TO PROGRESS POINT
A 5.1-acre NEW park for Winter PARK, half the size of Central Park, OR, a huge 40,000 mixed use development with a 2-3 decked parking garage? Which will it be? Now its planned with only a 1.5 acre insufficient pocket park.
As Leslie Poole of the Winter Park Land Trust described above, the Winter Park Citizens have never had that choice in a worksession. Say, informally at the Community Center. Let’s be more transparent please.
A GREENER OPTION – we have proposed 1 /2-mile loop trail, in a much larger 5.1-acre public park with a major greenspace and 1.5-acre stormwater “creek” filtering system, in a scenic Park setting. This stormwater system will benefit the local businesses and will cleanse the Orange Avenue and Denning water runoff. If you do not cleanse the water here, it flows directly into the Winter Park Chain of Lakes, mostly untreated. A small version of Boston’s Emerald Necklace!
PARKING – instead of a giant parking garage (Totally out of scale to Orange Avenue) this is a greener option to the massive mixed-use development, on city-owned land. We also have 100 bricked parking spaces for the businesses. Central Park only has 90 spaces, which is considered plenty by city parking consultants.
MARKETPLACE – with public comments, we added an optional “activating” Marketplace, just like the old Winter Park Farmer’s Market, for you to “get a cup of coffee” and a “treat or two” while you sit at a table viewing the active park green. Some will choose to sit and watch the wading birds in the new serpentine creek habitat. How about that? Let’s talk about it. The Orange Avenue Area is growing and this park is needed now while we can!
TREES – the city is anxious to plant seven huge live oak trees, roughly 21” in diameter, 25’ tall (Really big), as publicly discussed. That’s GREAT, while the trees are dormant in late December or January, but NOT “while the SAP is flowing in the summertime.” Please consider some botanically and life-oriented planting practices. It is so hot now.
Even with the city’s good STEWARDSHIP, trees moved in the summertime stand a high chance of going into shock, partially or fully. Have we ever seen a design of where this half a million, city investment in seven big trees is going? We want to. Let’s also see a plan of the entire area as a 5.1-acre NATURAL PARK, please. Where is the city’s design and construction plans? No rush, let’s do it right!
This is a chance for our community to really come together with inter-generational conversations, for children and parents to learn about trees and our watershed, while drinking cool drinks in a natural park. We can all learn about the greening of our Winter PARK. Let’s be sensitive to the big live oak trees and move them in the winter. LETS HAVE A GROUNDBREAKING IN EARLY JANUARY!
Forest Michael, Landscape Architect and Park Master Planner
City’s Central Park Master Plan lead, the Rose Garden, and other iconic Winter Park, park places
Co-designer of the “Natural Park Approach” with Natural Systems Analysts, Inc, Peter Gottfried, 2021, now on WPV, FB
Lest we forget, Progress Point is adjacent to a section of Orange Avenue that is organically re-developing itself under existing zoning regulations. New restaurants and other establishments are bringing vitality to this area. Progress Point Park will further enhance this section of Orange Avenue in a similar way that Central Park enhances Park Avenue. The potential patrons of the park are already there, they just need the park to be built.
I am in Mobile Al. It is beautiful here. Buildings have been bought and torn down to create new parks. Older parks are being refreshed. Historic districts have been found to increase property values or stabilize them during recessions. Also corporations contribute to some of the civic projects. All of this has improved the quality of life for the residents and businesses…..they agree on what is best for their city, and it is working.
WP residents are focused on a story about a local restaurant that allegedly denied salad to a customer and then called the cops on him to permanently remove him from the property because he ordered the salad “to go.”
The Voice is the only media in Winter Park not covering the salad caper.
And good thing too. Because every Winter Park resident should be focused on Progress Point.
Because folk, salads come and go, but Progress Point, whatever it becomes, is forever.
Amazing comments! “Green” has two meanings: One is money and one is park space. The latter is priceless!