July 1 was a historic day for Central Florida. That was the day Gov. Rick Scott gave the green light for SunRail to proceed. All of us along the Interstate 4 corridor owe the governor a heartfelt thank you. The approval of SunRail opened up many opportunities. To identify the major ones:
• First and foremost, it will create many new jobs sorely needed by our citizens. These jobs will be to build the new SunRail stations as well as the new major mixed-use developments that will occur around each station.
• Second, these new developments will increase the tax base for those municipalities producing much needed tax revenue to help replenish the depleted municipal coffers from the last few years of the economic recession and declining property values. This will help reduce the possibility of any future tax increases to cover the tax revenue shortfall caused by the recession.
• Third, the property values within a half-mile of the new stations will substantially increase, benefiting both the property owners, and again, increasing the tax revenues for the municipalities.
• Fourth, the offering of mass transit as an alternative mode of transportation should significantly add to the area communities in their ability to attract new businesses.
• Finally, it will reshape the way we accomplish our transportation needs now and in the future, enabling us to grow and prosper with much more confidence in our transportation infrastructure.
Although the governor had the final decision on SunRail, there was an extensive grass roots campaign during his extended evaluation period that was formed by many dedicated hard-working individuals and organizations that I believe were instrumental in influencing the governor’s ultimate decision. In recognizing the most influential individuals:
• Congressman John Mica has worked extremely hard and championed SunRail for many years.
• Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring SunRail to Central Florida.
• Finally, Jacob Stuart, President/CEO of the Central Florida Partnership, created and led the “Core Strategy Team,” an organization that was established for the sole purpose of bringing SunRail here.
This team was made up of many high-ranking business, civic, government and political leaders from all around the Central Florida area. They met on a weekly basis throughout the governor’s extended evaluation period, focusing on getting the message out to Scott on how and why SunRail was so important to Central Florida. Other organizations that deserve recognition for their efforts are MetroPlan Orlando, Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, Orlando Regional Realtor Association, Orange County Council of Mayors and Tri-County League of Cities. There were many other individuals and organizations too numerous to mention that also helped in this concerted effort to make SunRail a reality.
To all those who labored so hard to convince Scott that SunRail was the right choice for our area, we, in Central Florida, can’t thank you enough. Your hard work and dedication will pay big dividends for our transportation needs now and especially in the future. Hopefully this is just the beginning of mass transit for Central Florida. With the increasing price of fuel, the high cost to build and maintain roads and the limitation of road capacity as our area grows, rail transit is a key transportation alternative for our future. Without it, the economic development of our area will be limited and, therefore, our quality of life will suffer. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to help ensure prosperity for all our citizens and continue to maintain the wonderful quality of life that we have come to cherish.
City Council Meeting of July 11
The Maitland City Council met on July 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers. Below is a synopsis of that meeting. The next regular scheduled Council meeting is Monday, July 25.
• Denise Beumer, President of the Maitland Area Chamber of Commerce informed the Council of the recent hiring of Executive Director Maria Simmons and provided an update on future Chamber events.
• The mayor proclaimed July 2011 as “Parks and Recreation Month”.
• Adopted an ordinance amending the city code delegating the city manager or his/her designee, the authority to approve or disapprove permit application for special events including the possession or sale of alcoholic beverages on park property. The ordinance also provides for an appeal review process before City Council.
• An ordinance providing an exception to the existing city sign code was tabled to the Aug. 8 Council meeting.
• Adopted an ordinance authorizing the signing of a lease agreement between the City of Maitland and the Maitland Art and History Association, Inc. for the use of defined cultural corridor properties.
• Appointments: - Mr. Christopher A. Patton and Mr. Mark C. Warriner were appointed to the Board of Zoning Adjustment effective June 29, each for a three-year term.
• Council moved to implement “A Community with Honorable Character” program within the Maitland and amended the City’s Mission and Vision statements to incorporate the “Honorable Character” concept.
To listen to a recording of the meeting, visit www.itsmymaitland.com