The Time for Public Input is ALWAYS!Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.
Randy Knight, City Manager of Winter Park
The city always asks for public input and considers this input vital to our city governance. Winter Park operates under a representative form of government. This means we, as citizens, elect representatives to run the city, pass laws and regulations, address development requests, and plan for the future of our city. As part of that process the city ALWAYS asks for community input and often times it provides opportunities for that input multiple times before final decisions are made.
When the question arises, “has anyone asked you…” about items such as the Lawrence Center Garage, parking or mixed use, the answer is, “Yes, the city has asked or will ask as part of the process.”
For the proposed Lawrence Center Parking Garage, a citywide notice was mailed to all city households at the beginning of August asking interested residents and stakeholders to attend and share their input at upcoming meetings. The notice was also posted on cityofwinterpark.org/citywide. The dates for public input are Tuesday, September 11, for the Planning & Zoning Board and Monday, September 24, for the City Commission meeting. Both meetings are held in Commission Chambers located on the second floor of City Hall.
For the proposed parking code changes, a community input meeting was held in July, multiple summits were held in 2017, and the City Commission was provided an update at their March 2018 meeting. These meetings were noticed by various means. Subscribers to citEnews were emailed a notice. The meetings were posted online with related reports posted on cityofwinterpark.org/parking, postcards were mailed to 274 property owners in the corridors directly impacted, and advertisements were placed in the newspaper. If an ordinance modifying the parking code moves forward for City Commission consideration, those meetings will be advertised and public input taken in public hearings at the Planning & Zoning Board and at two separate City Commission meetings.
The Orange Avenue pilot project for mixed use was just suggested at the July 10 Commission work session. This will be a multi-month study/process and public input will be solicited throughout that process. This project was considered by your elected representatives over Aloma Avenue, West Fairbanks Avenue and Lee Road because there are three major properties along that corridor that have expressed interest in redevelopment over the next 24 months. That is not the case for the other corridors.
We understand what a challenge it can be in our busy lives to keep up with the various issues being addressed by the city and that is why we use multiple methods to get the word out. The best ways to stay informed for these types of projects are to subscribe to the citEnews emails at cityofwinterpark.org/citEnews or periodically visit the city’s official website for upcoming board & public meetings at cityofwinterpark.org/bpm.
Thank you Randy for reminding the residents of Winter Park about how much the city does to inform and involve citizens about planning and development in Winter Park.
But even with the level of information provided, clearly there is a group, represented by remarks by Sally Flynn, that feel it is not enough.
I have promoted for a long time the need for a physical place to display and take comments on planning and development in Winter Park. For some people speaking to the commission is intimidating, and often, three minutes is not sufficient time to make a comment. A conversation format, such as workshops, is one means to provide more time discussion.
The WP Voice could more valuable by being more than an opinion broadsheet. For example, Randy’s article is a good start to provide information, not opinion about the information process used by the city. Rather than offer one point of view about a topic, say parking, or Rollins proposed garage, present the objective project information, and let people make up their own minds.
In the present format, the WP Voice has already taken a position, and is trying to lobby the community to accept that position. To make proper decisions, all sides of the particular issue need to be explained and understood.
In the case of the Rollins Garage, the WPV should reach out to the community relations office at Rollins and report a full explanation of the project. Rollins is proposing a garage that is no taller than the present garage; and the city has asked to explore the idea of adding floors to provide additional parking.
So,WPV, please become a newspaper with an opinion page, not just a broadside that says it is only trying to protect the residents of WP. Report the facts and let the residents decide for themselves.
The Voice editors do not write opinion pieces. When they write, they report as best they can what they’ve heard and seen at City Hall.
The WPV does, however, welcome the opinions of a diverse group of other Winter Park Voices, among them Sally Flynn, Beth Hall and Randy Knight — who have written the most recent opinion pieces. You will note at the top of each there is a disclaimer that states that the opinions expressed in the guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views of the WPV. If you look to the right side of the page, the fourth item under ‘Winter Park Topics’ is Opinion. That is the section in which these and other articles of this kind are archived.
Ignore the critics Anne. They are pandering for social gain at the country club. You do an excellent job at reporting on complicated issues – they simply dislike your truth. Consider their haughty attitude a badge of honor.
We can argue all day long about being ignored and our voices not heard, but the remedy to this kind of out-of-touch governance is VOTING. Let’s focus on the path to change and hopefully not upend another political race out of misplaced fear next March.
Thank you for your courage to report the reality of their bad voting records
For me a letter from the city manager in the Voice is a very welcome addition. Thank you, Randy Knight.
The letter does not address or change some underlying facts:
1. There has been no vote or public hearing by the commission on whether to undertake re-development of the Orange Corridor as a “pilot” or “test” case. It does not appear that there is any intent to hold one.
(I find other corridors to be as deserving as this corridor, if not more so. The presence of multiple vocal and anxious landowners on Orange does not establish that it would serve the residents best to make it the test case for implementing yet to be devised mixed use standards.)
2. There has been, to my knowledge, no attempt to solicit resident input on the issue of what corridor if any should be re-developed using yet to be devised mixed use standards. The work session on mixed use did not permit public input. The mixed use item on the agenda was a non- action item.
3. Holding public input sessions in the middle of summer when many are away from the city for an extended period is not a best practice. July 17th is not a good date for a community input session for this reason. There could still be a session on this date, but it should not be the only session.
4. I love informative e-mails from the City of WP. The city has the demonstrated ability to reach out to thousands of residents, if not all, via e-mail. Mr. Knight could address why this method is not used to solicit and encourage citizen input on a myriad of issues- from parks to development and the proposed ordinance to reduce parking requirements. Survey Monkey is one vehicle which could be used in this way. Other cities do it.
Randy Knight: Thank you for your letter to the VOICE. I agree
that the city does a very good job sending communications to
the residents. They are helpful and informative. The message
we are trying to convey is that this is a one-way conversation
in which the City Tells Us. We would like the opportunity to tell
the City what we think about what the City tells Us. We are
asking for a two-way conversation.
Jeffrey Blydenburgh’s suggestion for an open forum for public
discourse on growth and development in our City is much
needed and wanted. It means not only hearing the residents-
for more than three minutes-but using the residents’
suggestions in the City’s decision making process. i am aware
the process could be cumbersome if there were not some rule
governing citizen input but a regular forum where citizens
could bring forth their ideas and concerns would go a long
way toward building mutual trust and respect among our
citizens and their government.
Taxation without representation.
That about sums up Winter Park government today, wouldn’t you say?
Folks didn’t have much luck with that program last time they tried it.
Oh golly, I’m so glad THIS time it will be different!
I was WORRIED it would be like all the other times.
You know, you all just pretending to listen to residents for months on end, and then WHAMMO, we get our library taken out from under our feet and our park ruined, and stuff like that.
But, when I read Randy’s letter, I just KNEW that we can TRUST our government again, and that everything will be swell. Didn’t you feel it too?
What really touched my heart was the part about representative government. Sounds like they really CARE this time.
Sure, they’ve done us wrong before, but THIS TIME it will be different. The Big Bad Wolf won’t bite us this time, everyone. Let’s all join hands as one – Pete Weldon, Pitt Warner, c’mon, Sarah Sprinkel, Greg Seidel, c’mon, Carolyn Cooper, and you too Steve Leary, c’mon so we can give you a big hug and tell you WE TRUST YOU STEVE to protect our village scale and quality of life.! All is forgotten.
Let’s all meet down at the City Hall and throw our yard signs and petitions in the dumpster, and pledge to never do anything more than attend government meetings and vote, and to put our trust in our government always to take care of everything!
Play the song!
I recall voting at the polls on funding for the library. It was approved by the majority of voters.
Suppose your favorite spectator sport was played with referees that nobody could see. Who announced the score at the end of the game, but didn’t show you the plays that led to the final score. Who were not required to be impartial.
Would you believe the score was true and fair when announced?