We asked elected officials in Maitland and Winter Park what their city's biggest accomplishment was in 2011 and what their resolution is for the city in 2012.
Winter Park City Commission
As mayor, I am most proud we did not raise our citizens’ taxes during the most difficult financial times in the past 50 years and worked diligently to balance our city’s budget.
We must seek opportunities that bring new jobs to Winter Park while preserving the wonderful quality of life we enjoy.
My resolution is to continue to provide peace and harmony within our city through leadership and example. Our greatest accomplishment was to help create an atmosphere of openness, acceptance and goodwill exemplified in the many events we provide from the Easter egg hunt to the Christmas tree lighting.
Having our downtown listed on the National Registry of Historic Places is the 2011 is the accomplishment that I believe has the most far-reaching possibilities for Winter Park. In concert with such creative endeavors as the Winter Park Institute, and the wealth of artistic venues that we are blessed with, our city is positioning itself to be a true destination for culture and heritage.
Our city’s greatest asset is our citizens. My resolution for 2012 is to enlist them to the fullest extent possible, as our community determines the manner in which we grow so that our growth serves to enhance our city’s character and livability. An article about dysfunctional government in the December issue of the AARP Bulletin listed “Five Things You Can Do” to ensure that the process is constructive. I now have a copy of them in my Commission notebook as a personal reminder and offer them to you for thought and hopefully positive action:
- Engage. Take an interest in the process.
- Study the issues that are important to you.
- Listen to contrary views.
- Don’t take yes for an answer. Keep pushing and inquiring.
We have achieved much without raising taxes. We have increased our General Fund Reserve to +24 percent, approved a plan to address a short-term pension liability, refunded money to our electric utility customers, rescinded the Commission pay raise and user fees in our most popular park, seen the beginnings of greatness in Mead Gardens, voted to move forward with the Alfond Inn and State Office Building projects. We are seeing greater activity in our residential real estate market, we estimate vacancies on Park Avenue at 4 percent, we've welcomed many new businesses to Orange Avenue and Hannibal Square, we have empowered our advisory boards and city staff, and by doing all of this and more, we have brought unity back to our community.
My 2012 resolution is to build on the positive momentum we have created this year by continuing to listen to and represent all of our stakeholders, to be loyal to and to defend our constituents’ trust, to efficiently manage the city's finances, to work with my fellow commissioners as well as regional partners to maintain focus on the big picture and to work to build on our city's great past to create the future Winter Park in its image.
I grew up in a military family. My father served in the Congo and Korea. My brother, a Navy pilot, served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. My husband, Ned, served in Vietnam.
Last year, I asked that the city do something to honor our veterans, and on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m., the Westside Ministerial Alliance, the Chamber and the city of Winter Park jointly held the first Veterans Day Service.
Those who gathered to celebrate at our new Community Center were inspired by the words of Brigadier General Stephen Sea and entertained by the VFW community band.
Best of all, we were joined by the oldest living Tuskegee Airman.
After the program, Rev. Turner from the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church told me that this event “defied George Wallace’s ideas of ‘segregation forever.’ ” With genuine emotion, he told me the event made him “hippopotamus happy and elephant glad.”
Often these small moments form the clearest definition of our sense of community in Winter Park. To me, this event and the people with whom I was privileged to share it shaped my most important memory of 2011.
My desire for our community in 2012 is that through gracious leadership we will grow in our ability to create better solutions through respect and encouragement of all voices.
Maitland City Council
The year 2011 has been an exciting time for Maitland. With the construction of our new fire station and city hall and the approval of SunRail, all have historic significance for our city. However, the most important event in my opinion that took place was the streamlining of our permitting process. This signified a major change in the way our city does business. For years Maitland’s permitting process has been difficult for developers to get their projects approved. It was overregulated, time-consuming and expensive. With this change, our city is now open for business and is encouraging quality development. This new permitting process promotes a positive problem-solving attitude, project time review efficiencies and cost savings. With the need to expand our tax base to keep our taxes down, create jobs and the desire to develop our new downtown, this is a major step forward to achieving those goals.
For 2012, we look forward with great anticipation to the completion and grand opening of our new fire station (January) and city hall (August) and the continued quest to redevelop our downtown. With our new streamlined permitting process in place, the prospects of achieving that redevelopment as well as our new “open for business” policy helps ensure the future prosperity of our city.
The most important event this year was to complete the new fire station. When I was voted into office in 2007, I was very determined to provide a new building for the fire and police personnel. The police building was completed, yet the fire station remained elusive. Finally, in 2011 it will become real. I am very pleased this has been accomplished.
The most important future endeavor is to develop a master plan for the downtown, using complete streets, pedestrian-friendly design and a well-thought out development strategy that easily connects all forms of transit to mass transit and to all parts of the city. The plans for interior streets, parking, storm water handling, water conservation, sewers and plenty of green space to make shoppers comfortable all need to be planned before the first shovel of dirt is turned. I have great concern development will be allowed to start without understanding whether the unit being developed will fit as a piece of the whole design in the master plan. Citizens, the staff and incoming developers need a clear picture as to what the city will look like, and be like, when it is finished. More importantly everyone needs to understand that each part or piece will not exist in isolation. It must relate and be part of the whole.
I am happy to provide my list of the top five city of Maitland City Council accomplishments for 2011, and my 2012 New Year’s resolution.
In my view the following five items are in a five-way tie for the best things I personally had a hand in helping to accomplish in 2011. I can’t rank them, and they are presented in no particular order of priority.
Top Five Accomplishments for 2011
-Completion of merger and long-term lease for MAHA.
-Adoption of pill mill ordinance.
-Adoption of anti-computer gambling ordinance.
-Establishment of K-9 memorial garden and re-institution of K-9 unit (planned).
-Near completion of permitting code streamlining and related downtown pattern book update.
2012 New Year’s resolution: Continued civility and collegiality among Council members.
Editor’s note: Councilman Ivan Valdes declined to submit a response, and Councilwoman Linda Frosh did not return requests for comment.