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Opinion
Windermere Observer Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015 2 years ago

LETTER: Windermere’s DNA and Bryan DeCunha’s cynical ploy

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Winter Park didn’t fall for it. Neither should Windermere residents in the unlikely event the county commissioners abdicate their responsibility.
by: Michael Eng Executive Editor

Dear Editor:

Winter Park didn’t fall for it. Neither should Windermere residents in the unlikely event the county commissioners abdicate their responsibility.

Remember back in the mid-1990s when the signature golf course in Winter Park found itself in the overdevelopment crosshairs?

A ballot referendum sent the overdevelopment interests packing. That course and the clubhouse were included on The National Register of Historic Places, thereby increasing the value of surrounding Winter Park property. I know all of this because my late cousin’s work in Pittsburgh was the model for The Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which created The National Register of Historic Places. 

We’ve seen this over-development movie before. A few years ago, a Windermere over-developer tried to build a 70,000-square-foot behemoth on property he had purchased across from Windermere’s City Hall. I founded Friends of Windermere to save the finest remaining Old Florida village in the state. It took me five years to obtain a “threatened listing” for Windermere from The National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Winter Park and Cypress Gardens “threatened listings” took about a third of that time.

Over-development devalues the entire village of Windermere. The over-developer is betting the county commissioners will fall for the “siren song of tax-revenue windfalls at the expense of unique scenic quality,” as I remarked in a 2006 column, “Stakes for Windermere, Winter Park.”

All Windermere citizens need to light up the switchboards of their county commissioners, congressmen — you name it. Tell them you are a local voter and taxpayer who would not be allowed to walk off with 155 acres of Windermere Country Club golf course property for $2.45 million for the purpose of building 95 single-family homes. So why would the county commissioners be allowed to circumvent the 1986 agreement that prevents Mr. DeCunha from doing precisely that?

As has been the case with Winter Park, Windermere and Cypress Gardens, the public’s intellectual capital will prevail.

Will Graves
founder, Friends of Windermere

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