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Southwest Orange Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 2 weeks ago

Windermere leaders focus on parking, public safety

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Two new ordinances were part of Town Council’s Nov. 9 meeting.
by: Jim Carchidi Associate Editor

Windermere Town Council heard the first reading of a new parking violations ordinance during its Nov. 9 meeting. The ordinance is in response to repeated violations throughout the town’s recreation areas.

“The issue with parking generally stems from the parks and the boat ramp,” Windermere Mayor Jim O’Brien said. “People have been parking illegally after the parks are closed or parking their vehicles with boat trailers throughout town while they use the lakes.”

The ordinance follows last month’s parking moratorium at East Third Avenue, East Fourth Avenue and the Lake Street and Lake Down parks.

“The issue with parking generally stems from the parks and the boat ramp. People have been parking illegally after the parks are closed or parking their vehicles with boat trailers throughout town while they use the lakes.”

Windermere Mayor 

Jim O’Brien 

 

“The moratorium was put into place because we had people parking in the parks, that are very close to residents homes, at all hours of the night,” O’Brien said. “To address that, after a lot of police enforcement, we put a temporary moratorium in place so we could give some relief to those residents while we went through the proper procedure for the ordinance.”

“We really never had a parking ordinance,” Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden said. “Prior tickets were issued at $15, but we seldom wrote them due to the lack of an articulation in the code.”

The new ordinance lists the schedule of civil penalties at $30, with the standard $250 penalty for parking in handicapped-accessible spots without a permit.

DIVING ORDINANCE

Town Council approved the amendment of an established ordinance, governing waterways and marine activities, to include the prohibition of jumping or diving from town property.

According to a section of the amendment, titled Legislative Findings: “There have been numerous instances of individuals jumping from town docks and bridges and using town docks for commercial activities, and the town desires to regulate such activities to promote the health, safety and welfare of town residents and visitors to the town.”

“I’m sure that’s been a problem over the years, but what we found recently, and during the pandemic, was there was a large uptick in that type of behavior, and it’s really dangerous,” O’Brien said. “It doesn’t change any of the policing. What this does is give the police and code-enforcement officials the tools they need to enforce the rules already in place.”

According to Ogden, large numbers of juveniles have been spotted acting irresponsibly on town docks and marine infrastructure, and repeated drug and alcohol use are part of the offenses. Neighbors also have reported the offenses and are concerned of the possible outcomes. 

“We’re not looking to put people in jail; it’s a civil ordinance,” Ogden said. “We can call some parents and things like that, but it really is a safety issue and quality of life issue.”

BOATHOUSE WORKSHOP SCHEDULED FOR NOV. 29

Windermere’s ongoing boathouse debate was not part of the Nov. 9 meeting but will be addressed during a Nov. 29 virtual workshop. 

“We’ll be discussing path forward,” O’Brien said. “People will be able to comment during the virtual meeting. We found they actually work better than the hybrid meetings because everybody has the opportunity to speak.”

The meeting will be streamed via Zoom. Details on live streaming access can be found at town.windermere.fl.us along with the meeting agenda, which will be published 48 hours before the event.

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Jim Carchidi is an associate editor for the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. He has more than two decades of journalism experience in Central Florida, including positions at the Orlando Sentinel and the Orlando Business Journal. He holds a...

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