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Our Choice For Mayor

February 22, 2015

Dear Fellow Winter Park Voter,

CLICK LINKS BELOW TO ACCESS SOURCE MATERIAL.

I am a Winter Park resident committed to reasoned governance for our city. I am paying for this letter with my money. I have served on city boards for eight years, having been a member of the city’s Code Enforcement Board, and currently serving on both the Tree Preservation Board and Planning and Zoning Board.

While elections tend to be emotionally driven and lack substance, I hold Winter Park to a higher standard; a standard based on knowledge of the circumstances, policy substance, and results.

Based on my knowledge Cynthia Mackinnon’s campaign for mayor is based on completely false narratives and offers no policy substance.

  • Mackinnon says: “The current leadership has approved buildings that are out of scale – too massive and too dense.”

Uninformed. If Mackinnon had the opportunity to vote “NO” on the mass and density of these projects the city would be spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money paying developers not to build what they are entitled to build under the rules. The mass and density of every project approved in the past several years along Denning and on 17-92 was either grand fathered as a result of 2006 city commission approvals before the Comprehensive Plan was changed in 2009, or was consistent with the current Comprehensive Plan. If you want to blame somebody for the 2006 approvals it is not “current leadership.”  See “History of recent developments” for links to source material.

  • Mackinnon says: “New developments on 17-92 have been built with no consideration for parking or pedestrian safety.”

False. The developer of the “Trader Joes” project was not given final certificate of occupancy for all buildings until parking was provided to code. This same developer has now provided an additional 20 parking spaces above code AND has agreed to pay for a complete redo of the Morse/17-92 intersection to address pedestrian safety when the former “Mount Vernon” property across the street is developed (which the developer now owns). Further, the city cannot impose parking requirements in excess of code. See “History of recent developments” for links to source material.

  • Mackinnon says: “The current leadership promotes one project after another that have little, if any, community support, including a professional baseball stadium adjacent to residential neighborhoods, and a massive apartment complex on Denning which is out of character with our community.”

Uninformed. The city commission does not decide what projects are promoted. Property owners do, just as you decide what kind of house you live in.

“Current leadership” asked city management to evaluate the possibility of combining the baseball needs of Rollins College and the Brevard Manatees minor league baseball team at various locations in Winter Park (see page 6). The evaluation ended when the Orange County Commission did not consider extending the Winter Park CRA as a funding mechanism and as Rollins College decided not to proceed.

The Denning apartment complex was approved for R4 zoning in 2006 and the developer is entitled to that zoning (4 story residential), just as you are entitled to build a single family home on your R1 residential property. It seems Mackinnon wants to return to those days of yesteryear when city cash reserves (accumulated with your tax dollars) went to zero to pay developers not to build what they have the legal right to build. See “History of recent developments” for links to source material.

  • Mackinnon says: “We are losing our tree canopy with only one tree being planted for every three trees that are removed.”

False. The facts regarding our tree canopy are extremely positive exactly because of the actions of “current leadership.” Mackinnon’s numbers refer only to street trees, not trees on private property which require replanting upon removal and 2 for 1 replanting for trees removed over 19 inches in diameter. The 3 to 1 street tree removal to replanting ratio is an old number and a function only of timing. We are removing some trees planted on our right of ways some 50 – 70 years ago because they have become dangerous. “Current leadership” voted last September to increase the 2014-15 replanting budget by $100,000 (total $250,000) to begin to catch up the removals for safety purposes with new replanting (see page 12). As of December 2014, 93.5% of all street tree locations have trees planted. Most importantly, “current leadership” supported the first street tree management program in the 138 years of our existence. We are proactively managing our street tree canopy for the first time and, combined with “current leadership’s” commitment to electric under-grounding, can expect our street trees to provide a significantly healthier and larger canopy over the next 10-20 years.

I refer you to these city management reports for the facts: Tree Planting Report December 2014 and 4Q2014 Performance Measurement Report (see page 4).

False. The city’s recent capacity report (see page 8) shows that traffic counts on our major roads stayed relatively constant between 2005 and 2013 and in several cases went DOWN. Ms. Mackinnon offers no solutions to problems she fabricates. The fact is that the vast majority of traffic in Winter Park is generated by the 2,000,000 people living around us, either visiting or passing through.

It is very disappointing that Mackinnon has chosen to campaign on completely false narratives, narratives that mislead the people of Winter Park. Also, Mackinnon’s decision to pursue the politics of personal destruction with her negative mailers damages our city. The person we want as Mayor of Winter Park needs to be a positive and forthright advocate of the varied interests of our citizenry, someone more interested in a vital and viable future for our city than in empty critiques of the past.

Based on my knowledge Steve Leary should be Mayor of Winter Park. Leary’s narrative is supported by the facts, his policy contributions have substance, and he has proven he gets results in his four years serving as our Commissioner and Vice Mayor.

  • Leary is the only candidate with proven experience overseeing our $150 million annual city-wide budget.
  • Leary has consistently voted to keep our property tax rate from increasing (see page 6).
  • Leary supports building our cash reserves to 30% of general fund expenses, saving money for an uncertain future and protecting our service levels while balancing the city budget (see page 338).
  • Leary secured $400,000 in State funding to improve Mead Gardens.
  • Leary consistently supports both our city-wide electric under-grounding program and the street tree management program (he helped bring about), demonstrating a clear vision of how these two program will vastly improve our street tree canopy and the overall character of Winter Park well into the future.
  • Leary was instrumental in initiating $12 million in State funding to underground electric lines on Fairbanks between I4 and 17-92. The process of finalizing this opportunity is underway with contract negotiations between Duke Energy, FDOT, and the city.
  • Leary led the effort to revitalize the Cady Way pool complex, recently voted the best public pool in Orlando Weekly’s “Best of Orlando” poll.
  • Leary has consistently supported sidewalk dining.
  • Leary led the effort that stopped the 500% pay increase. (see page 5).
  • Leary led the effort that overturned fees for using the dog park at Lake Baldwin Park (see page 5).
  • With Leary’s support the city has been successful in securing a $1,137,500 grant to begin construction of “quietzones” at 12 major intersections in Winter Park. These improvements are expected to dramatically reduce horn noise from Sunrail and other trains going through Winter Park.

While Mackinnon offers us false narratives, Leary offers us a proven leader of substance, a positive professional who respects and acts on the facts, who is forth right with the citizenry, and who has made sound decisions significantly benefiting our city.

The contrast could not be clearer. Steve Leary has earned our vote for Mayor on March 10th.

Yours Truly, Peter J. Weldon

I can be reached at 407.212.7850407.212.7850, peter.weldon@gmail.com and through winterparkperspective.org. Florida Statute 106.071(2) requires the following: Paid political advertisement paid for by Peter J. Weldon – 700 Via Lombardy – Winter Park, FL 32789 independently of any candidate or committee.

 

Posted in Election 2015.


15 Responses

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  1. Ellie Warner says

    Facts are stubborn things.

  2. Ruth Harris says

    What will Mr. Leary do to prevent all the robberies that are taking place in Winter Park ? How will he keep the criminals out of our community ? Will he work with other elected officials & law makers ? Would he be in favor of putting up cameras on the streets to protect our citizens ?

  3. Pete Weldon says

    Ruth, I encourage you to direct your questions to the candidates directly. My better half is our neighborhood watch coordinator and has been increasingly busy recently for the reasons you note. Your point is well taken in that our elections tend to always be about “development” when the truly important issues we typically take for granted get ignored, public safety and our first responders especially. Your post makes me take a moment to thank our city for spoiling us. Our water always flows and, in the absence of accidental water main breaks, is always safe to drink. I bought a generator after the 2004 hurricanes because Progress Energy’s reliability was so terrible and now I don’t need it because our electric company has dramatically improved reliability in my neighborhood. Our electric company is now generating surpluses that enable us to afford city-wide electric undergrounding that will allow our street tree canopy to flourish while lowering electric grid maintenance costs and increase reliability further. Our street trees are now being inventoried in detail with GIS mapping and database management that allows us to plan trimming, hazardous removals, and replanting to be scheduled and managed in a proactive manner. Our tax base continues to improve and as our property values increase. Our city has accumulated over $12 million in reserves and our budget is balanced. We do live in a great city and I am sick of the “no” people whining about everything that has to do with nothing. There, got that off my chest. I hope this election turns from a false narrative about development to a focus on the overwhelmingly positive news about how well our city management and city commission have managed our oasis.

  4. John Goldsberry says

    All of your references are vague and refer mostly to committees actions and not what Leary has done or proposed. People who own property do not have the right to do what ever they want with it. Developers do not have the right to buy up land and develop it to the detriment of the majority of people. The traffic in this town has gone from bad to extremely bad. You say it has not changed- who do you think your kidding. Developers should not be allowed to ruin our town for their benefit

  5. Anonymous says

    Thanks Pete . Kindest Regards to Fran

  6. Pete Weldon says

    John, believe it or not, I actually share some of your frustrations.

    I don’t think Leary did everything himself. He initiated some of the policies that have worked and others on the commission and in city management initiated some of the things that have worked. The bottom line is that Leary’s votes, his initiatives, and his support for the initiatives of others have delivered extremely good results for Winter Park.

    Personally, I am tired of the “developers ruin everything” world view. I think it is myopic and it certainly isn’t consistent with reality. You might find this post of interest: http://www.winterparkperspective.org/2015/01/21/a-primer-on-development/. Review it with a land use attorney and see what he/she thinks about the realities we, and every other city in Florida face.

  7. Ron says

    Disappointed that Mr. Leahy seemed to be an I did and not a we did,leader,that’s not a good leader.Ron

  8. Mike Winn says

    Pete. I agree that Steve is ready to be Mayor, and I think a good one. I am much more concerned about the wave of crime in Winter Park now than I am about the oak trees. I don’t have statistics, but I don’t remember ever having as many breakins as we are having now. And, many are doing the daytime. We used to feel that Winter Park was pretty much immune to crime and something like a daytime breakin was very rare. Not so anymore. I rarely see a police car just driving through our neighborhood. You can see them all the time on streets like Aloma and Lakemont, but not Alabama. Just driving through neighborhoods or leaving a car parked somewhere would make us feel better. Thanks for doing this Pete.

  9. Ruth Harris says

    Amen Mike !! I agree with you !

  10. Beth Hall says

    (PJW – my comment on the following is the subject of a post you can find here: http://www.winterparkperspective.org/2015/02/19/the-revelations-of-beth-hall/.)

    Sometimes, rightly or wrongly, candidates for office pay the price for the sins of their forbearers. Witness the outcome of the recent mid-term elections at the national level.
    Similarly, witness the dismay in some quarters that anyone named “Bush” or “Clinton” would dare run for President. I would posit that what we have seen in our lovely Winter Park is the building- or the proposal to build- structures or features that are decidedly too large, too massive or too intrusive to be appropriate for this village we all love. Examples are Paseo, Lakeside, Ravaudage and the baseball stadium. Only the latter has failed to become reality. Yet.

    Is there anyone among us who does not see that large scale development means that traffic on 17-92, Fairbanks and Lee Road will be even worse than the current gridlock, if such a thing is possible? (And if you don’t think there is gridlock, get out there and drive!) Once Paseo is fully leased up and that many additional vehicles (200 cars? 300? 400?) clog ingress and egress roads, it is possible that Denning and Canton will join the “roads from hell” category. Remember that Paseo comprises 200 units: 16 of which have three bedrooms and 69 of which have 2 bedrooms.

    The Lee Road punch through opposed by affected residents but supported by Leary will only add to traffic woes. Even now, it currently takes me 15 minutes or more to reach I-4…no matter how I approach it… from my home less than 4 miles away in Winter Park. Add the Ultimate I-4 project’s impacts to our self-inflicted wounds and you have a recipe for traffic disaster. A comp plan (or zoning) which allows the gigantic Paseo, or the Lakeside plaza with its inadequate parking, or a baseball stadium just off of Fairbanks… is not a sane or sound plan. Variances or up zoning which aid and abet such projects are hazardous to our quality of life

    With plans underway for a “Visioning” process to take place soon- a visioning that will necessarily inform future development and/or a future comp plan- I am concerned that we may see more of the same types of things which we have all recently seen.

    Leary or Mackinnon. Whose vision more closely matches my own? I have to ask this question when I cast my vote for mayor. Steve Leary overtly states that he is proud of the development built in the last few years and of his voting record. Moreover, he is a supporter of Bellows’ projects. He has recently voted to allow parts of the Ravaudage development to be built closer to Lee Road than city regulations would permit. He told me the difference was so minor it was not significant. He also voted for up zoning on the property adjacent to the Winter Park Wedding Chapel at Bellows’ request. (See City Commission vote on 2-25-13 to increase R-1 to R-2 specifically. See youtube.com “Bellows persuades. Sprinkel Switches. A neighborhood changes. Link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGRbc7NvHdc )

    Also, Leary was in favor of excluding parking garages from calculation of the FAR “before he was against it” in the span of a few minutes at a commission meeting. See the WPM Observer story dated May 7, 2014. (Will he flip back to being “for” this if elected? Would he have voted for it if Bradley actually been present at the meeting to provide some cover on this vote as well? Answers unknown.)

    Moreover, Steve Leary acquired the Thomas Lumber Property on Orange Avenue with partners and then voted on a development issue before the commission that affected that very property. Yes, he obtained an ethics opinion prior to the vote which said he need not recuse himself from that vote… even though it affected his interest in the property favorably. Still, would it not have been taking the high road for him to recuse himself from the vote thus avoiding “even the appearance of impropriety”?

    The horror of a lot of Winter Park residents at what they have seen come to pass as well as all that which has been merely proposed, makes many wary of anyone who has been seated on the dais during the approval process or even the building of the aforementioned projects. Who is minding the store? Who will protect gracious, lovely WP?

    Yes, the developer of Lakeside Plaza (Unicorp) is going to build on the Mt. Vernon site and add more parking to bail out his own parking challenged Lakeside. But what if there was not another developable parcel nearby to add some desperately needed, though remote, parking spots? And what if he hadn’t been able to procure the Mt. Vernon site? Or what if he had not come up with a plan that made said procurement profitable enough for him? Is the solution to a parking disaster at one development always to secure another nearby development site to cure it? Acting first and thinking it through later is not a workable plan.

    Voters in WP may just send a message that they are fed up and do not want another Carlisle debacle or another Lakeside or a Paseo. Can one say that these voters are wrong? Or do they simply want to have a city government that will listen to them? Development and its appropriate scale is a major issue. Obviously.

    Query: Ought the comp plan be changed to prevent just these types of massive or intrusive projects? If so, Leary’s own statements, his history, and his voting record cause me to question whether he shares my concerns. For this reason I will vote for Mackinnon.

    Beth Hall

  11. Pete Weldon says

    Beth, Thank-you for writing. You have provided a clear expression of all the development related concerns that animate Mackinnon’s campaign and supporters. My response can be found here: http://www.winterparkperspective.org/2015/02/19/the-revelations-of-beth-hall/.

  12. Don Van Dingenen says

    Pete, I enjoy reading your thoughts and perspective on winter park.
    Your analysis and objectivity based on actual facts is enlightening.
    I am thankful to be your new neighbor and truly appreciate Fran’s dedication
    In the watch program as well. You two bring out the best in Winter Park.
    Best, Don Van Dingenen

  13. Don Thompson says

    The tree issue is one I believe we are being misled on. I see large trees being removed (and not replaced) so that bigger homes can be built on smaller lots. I hear about new “tree plans” yet ten years ago, our Forestry Department (now gone) was doing an excellant job. Seems we are being misled.

  14. Pete Weldon says

    Don, the policy has always allowed trees to be removed and has always required replanting. You can go to municode.com and look up Winter Park, Land Development Code, Chapter 58, Article 5, Division 6 and read the rules. You don’t have to trust me or anyone else.

    Single family home size is restricted as percentage of the square footage of the lot. These rules leave plenty of space to plant shade trees.

    The previous 14 person forestry staff has been streamlined with tree trimming, removal, and planting now done by contractors. The total budget has remained relatively constant while the productivity (number of trees trimmed, removed, planted) has increased. Check with city staff on the details here. Our city is getting more accomplished without incurring employment and insurance related expenses that would be more expensive than using contractors. This is called sound management practice, getting results while using our tax money responsibly.

    No one is misleading anyone. Check with city staff for the reports that document the facts.

  15. Traffic says

    There are so many perception about traffic, but let’s look at facts. FLDOT reports through 2013, as presented at Dec. 8 City Commission meeting under City Manager’s Report, Capacity Concurrency Report, pgs. 7,8,. there has been no increase in traffic on Winter Park’s major roads in the last 8 years. And now let’s assume Paseo and Trader Joe’s and former Mt. Vernon bring lots more traffic to that area of town. Traffic counts are down by over 2,000 cars a day on 17-92 between Webster and Fairbanks., according to the tables and charts.
    Traffic is an issue, but we live 5 miles from the 23rd largest city in America. Orlando is growing. According to the stats presented by FDOT, it looks like commuters are avoiding us. I know that doesn’t help when you’re sitting at a red light trying to get to I-4, but traffic is stable in our town.



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