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D.C. trip 'success' for Winter Park

City Commissioners met with postal officials in Washington to discuss moving the Post Office near Central Park. The item will be discussed at Monday's meeting.

City Commissioners met with postal officials in Washington to discuss moving the Post Office near Central Park. The item will be discussed at Monday's meeting.

Isaac Babcock

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Winter Park may emerge a little richer after a contingent of city commissioners met with legislators in Washington D.C. in February to discuss plans for road, rail and Post Office projects and to ask for federal help to get them done.

"I think we were very successful in Washington," Commissioner Beth Dillaha said.

Commissioner Phil Anderson echoed that sentiment following a series of meetings with all of the area's representatives and two senate offices.

"We had a great discussion with all of our representatives, and we got great commitments to work on some of our agenda items," Commissioner Phil Anderson said.

One of the biggest items, the potential acquisition and move of the city's Post Office to make room for an expanded Central Park, dominated the city's priorities list as they spoke with Post Office officials in Washington.

Mayor Ken Bradley said that postal officials seemed amicable to the idea of working with the city to move the office, though they have yet to agree on a plan of action.

Anderson said that it may take time to move the project forward.

"They're open to discussing a number of things," Anderson said, "but right now moving that of their own volition is not their priority."

A laundry list of other priorities accompanied the Commission to Washington, as they lobbied for road projects, rail station remodeling and the improvement of the Fairbanks Avenue corridor.

At a Feb. 22 Commission meeting, Bradley gave a bit more detail about what might happen to the Amtrak station in Central Park. In the plans are a complete remodel as well as an integration of a SunRail stop.

"There are some portions of the station that are very beautiful," Bradley said. "But it's definitely antiquated. We're going to completely tear it down and rebuild it."

The cost of the rebuild, Bradley said, will be about $1 million, though that figure could fluctuate by as much as $100,000.

"We don't know when we're going to get the money," Bradley said. "We know it's already been allocated."

Depending on if there are no bumps along the way in obtaining funding and planning the station, Bradley said it could be open by the end of 2011.

Despite the successes of the meetings in Washington, the city has continued to fund the lobbying firm Alcade and Fay to push for more money.

"I do think that we're hopeful that having our lobbyists paired up with the faces from the city might be helpful in communicating those priorities," Anderson said.

Now the city is waiting to see if their meetings will bear fruit.

"I don't know what happens tomorrow or the next day, but I think this will work out well in the long run," Anderson said.