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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 9 months ago

Winter Park City Commission discusses legislative priorities, new Christmas tree in Central Park

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A new Christmas tree will be planted in Central Park on Friday, Jan. 19.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

Winter Park city commissioners reviewed their proposed legislative priorities for 2018, hoping to get funding for several significant projects and efforts.

At the top of the city’s list of projects to hopefully receive funding from the state was support funding for a public library construction grant, which would help pay for Winter Park’s upcoming library/event center.

That facility currently sits at No. 13 on the state’s project list and could receive $500,000 toward the cost.

The wish list also includes funding for a broadband pilot project, funding to expedite a quiet zone project for the city’s railroad intersections, and hurricane hardening funds, which would include generators for lift stations, undergounding of strategic power lines and upgraded telemetry.

Winter Park also has laid out a few stances on legislative matters, including opposing Senate Bill 574, which eliminates a city’s right to regulate trees.

“The rationale is that people should be able to do whatever they want on their own property,” Winter Park Director of Communications Clarissa Howard said. “We believe that reasonable regulations related to the removal of trees benefits the entire community.”

Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel said she wanted to see the city clearly outline its priorities — otherwise, they won’t get funded, she said.

“Those talking points don’t do anything guys unless you actually get them turned into something called a bill,” Sprinkel said. “I think if we really want something there, we need to say what it is we want, we draft it and we go forward.”

UCF Knights Day

The city also took a moment to recognize the University of Central Florida football team for defeating Auburn University in the Peach Bowl recently and completing an undefeated 13-0 season.

Mayor Steve Leary read a proclamation declaring Jan. 8, 2018, as “UCF Knights Day” in Winter Park.

UCF Athletic Director Danny White, a Winter Park resident, was present to receive the recognition.

“I find myself for the last few weeks in a position where I’m accepting recognition and awards on behalf of other people, certainly on behalf of our student athletes and what they accomplished the last few years,” White said. “I’m so proud of what they did and this season, to overcome a heck of a lot of adversity. … To go undefeated and run the table amidst all the distractions of the hurricane and then the coaching change … it’s just phenomenal.”

New Christmas Tree

Winter Park city commissioners also briefly discussed the recent purchase of a new Christmas tree for Central Park, which will sit on the north side of Morse Boulevard across from where the recent LED tree sat during the holidays.

That LED light was put in place following the city retiring its previous Christmas tree after it sustained damages from Hurricane Irma.

“We’ve always intended to find the new tree to replace our retired tree,” Howard said. “When Irma came and damaged our tree, that’s what prompted us to get something quick and fast in the meantime, which was the digital tree. While the season happened and went through we were looking for a replacement tree.”

Winter Park found that tree — a 20-foot southern red cedar — at a tree farm in north-central Florida recently. The tree is scheduled to be delivered to Winter Park’s tree nursery next week and then planted at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 19, in Central Park.

Commissioners said they have received mixed feedback about the digital tree that sat in Central Park this holiday season, with some residents enjoying it and others not so much. The City Commission and staff will discuss whether the LED tree will make a return in 2018 leading up to the holiday season, Howard said.

Tim Freed is an Associate Editor with the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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