Happy 2017 To All!
Mayor Leary’s Message – March 2017 issue
For the ninth straight year, we held the line on our millage rate. We maintain the third lowest millage rate in all of Orange County and maintain a healthy General Fund Reserve to protect us during emergency situations and to take advantage of sensible opportunities.
In 2016, we celebrated many new beginnings. We reopened the completely renovated Winter Park Golf Course, or the “WP9,” as it has been tagged. Led by Pro Shop Manager Gregg Pascale, the course has been featured on the Golf Channel and is being appreciated by thousands of golfers, pedestrians, and motorists daily.
In March, voters approved the funding of a new, reimagined library/events center and the site on the existing civic center has been confirmed through a legal process. Recently knighted British architect David Adjaye will lead the project and there will be ample opportunity for the community to weigh in as the schedule becomes available.
We partnered with Orange County Public Schools, Rollins College, and the Winter Park High School Foundation to rebuild Showalter Field. The facility features a new, multi-sport artificial turf field, new collegiate style rubberized running track, and new multi-media scoreboard. Close by, we opened two new restroom facilities to serve families using the Ward Park playing fields.
The Winter Park Health Foundation has also begun work on Project Wellness, a state-of-the-art, unique healthy living center focused on improving the quality of life for Winter Park residents.
These facilities have been/will be, built to the standards that we should all expect from Winter Park. They sit and fit alongside The Alfond Inn, Park Avenue, Hannibal Square and all of the other amenities that make Winter Park the envy of the region.
We’ve worked with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to replace our major railroad crossings and plan to smooth and repair the remaining crossings this year. Work on Quiet Zones will begin this year and will lessen the blaring horns as trains traverse through Winter Park.
We acquired the former bowling property on Fairbanks, worked with the FDOT and the developer of the Whole Foods center to open the Lee Road extension, and worked with our regional and national partners to be included in an Intelligent Traffic Signalization (ITS) pilot program along US Highway 17/92. These efforts will smooth traffic flow along the entirety of this busy multi-jurisdictional path through Winter Park. Thank you to the FDOT for their continued partnership and a special thank you to Congressman John Mica for his leadership with the ITS program.
In 2016, our Electric Utility Department underground over six miles of electrical distribution lines, exceeding our goal by a mile. This work led to minimal outages during October’s Hurricane Matthew and had Winter Park the first municipality in the region to have 100 percent of service restored. Our plan is on schedule and the lines most responsible for the majority of our outages have been placed underground. Some have suggested higher rates or additional bonding to raise monies to expedite the plan, though increasing rates or taking on additional debt at this juncture for purely aesthetic purposes would be overly burdensome and unwise.
Crime has been a topic of much community discussion this year. While trends indicate that we are relatively flat when it comes to crime in Winter Park, stats mean little if your home has been burglarized or you feel unsafe in any way. Hiring an additional officer might make headlines, though it would have marginal if any, effect on crime. Instead, we are working with our new police chief to develop new programs and efforts to combat crime. From different community policing strategies to utilization of newer technologies, we look forward to Chief Deal’s ideas and methods.
Our Urban Forestry Division continues to implement Winter Park’s first ever Urban Forestry Management Plan to strategically guide our investment and management of our tree canopy.
It would be easy, but not in our long-term best interest, to sit idle in the face of the continued growth of our region. If past generations had not looked upon the future as an opportunity, we would still be a pine forest, have alligator wrestling on Park Avenue, and be unable to enjoy sidewalk dining in Hannibal Square. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement as we build upon, and within, our founders’ vision of making Winter Park this special place.
Mayor Steve Leary
City of Winter Park