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Photo by: Katie Kustura - Outgoing Maitland City Councilman Jeff Flowers will be celebrated at City Hall on Monday. Howard Schieferdecker will take over his Council seat.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Apr. 22, 2010 7 years ago

Flowers takes his final bow

by: Katie Kustura

When Jeff Flowers first became involved in public service, it wasn't entirely his decision.

"I got talked into [the Lakes Advisory Council] by my 12-year-old daughter who liked to go fishing," said Flowers. "I realized she wouldn't be able to go fishing much longer with the quality of water that our lakes had."

After his first term had finished, he decided to run for a second term.

"I felt like I needed to continue my work because things were half-started, and I wanted to complete as much as I could," he said.

Mayor Doug Kinson, who met Flowers on Council, said he was very pleased that Flowers had decided to run for a second term.

"Those who truly have a passion for the community choose to run for a second term," Kinson said. "Thank goodness he did it because Maitland benefitted as a result."

Now the man who has served on the Maitland City Council for six years will step down to make room for incoming Councilman Howard Schieferdecker on Monday, April 26. Though he's content to be finished, he said there are certain things he'll miss about serving the city, such as the staff members.

"I've learned to really respect the people that make our city governments work and function," Flowers said. "We've got some really dedicated people … and I've gotten a chance to become personal friends with a number of them."

Something he won't miss is the sniping debate.

"It's very unproductive," he said. "It's not conducive to find out the best solutions."

One member of council who did not always see eye to eye with him is Councilman Phil Bonus.

"Probably the only divisive topic in recent memory is the downtown development project with Brossier," Bonus said.

However, the project currently on everybody's mind is the performing arts pavilion. Flowers wants to donate $250,000 for the pavilion that he'd like to see built at Lake Lily Park. In exchange, he wants the city to forgive the $50,000 advance that it gave the Performing Arts of Maitland, which Flowers founded.

Bonus said he finds the whole thing curious.

"I think I have to separate enthusiasm for a venue such as that, at some place at some point in the city, from the way it was presented," said Bonus. "I found it curious that we would engage in dozens of public workshops and meetings to analyze what to do with downtown and how to activate our parks … and yet, he never mentioned it."

The pavilion has barely been mentioned at the most recent City Council meetings. That the pavilion was not discussed at an earlier date, and the financial aspects of the project have been the primary causes for concern.

"There's no special benefit I'm achieving by giving away my money," said Flowers, who thinks the pavilion would encourage more community gatherings. "I don't define the tax laws, the IRS does."

Although the pavilion was on the agenda for the April 12 meeting, there was not as much time to discuss the project as Flowers would have hoped for. The city plans to schedule a workshop. He said he intends to remain involved by attending meetings and pushing forward with the project.

Kinson said he is thankful that Flowers wants to give Maitland such a gift.

"The donation actually gets lost between the lines, and we really need to step back and look at it for what it is," said Kinson. "It would be very unfortunate if people looked at Jeff Flowers in simply the light of whether or not they want a pavilion. He's meant much more to the city than a pavilion."

With work to be done on the pavilion project, Flowers will still be a busy man about the community. Now that his term is finished, the man who founded the Performing Arts of Maitland will continue to work with the arts as a member of the Youth Symphony Board.

"I performed in the Orlando Youth Symphony when I was a youth, and I'm looking forward to bringing as much expertise to that as I can," said the viola player.

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