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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Friday, Mar. 15, 2019 11 months ago

Winter Park commission creates new committees

City leaders approved the formation of the Charter Review Advisory Committee and the Library Site Evaluation Advisory Committee.
by: Troy Herring Sports Editor

In a short meeting for the Winter Park City Commission Monday, March 12, two new committees were established — the Charter Review Advisory Committee and the Library Site Evaluation Advisory Committee.

During the public hearings section of the meeting, the creation of a temporary Charter Review Advisory Committee was brought up for discussion. Every 10 years, the city has the ability to evaluate and revise the charter. The resolution brought forward establishes the seven-member committee to advise the commission until its work is done. The resolution calls for the committee to be finished by Sept. 30 and then dissolved.

The general consensus was mostly positive; the biggest question came in the form of how to go about appointing the committee’s members. 

“Here is my question: The charter doesn’t require seven members — we have nothing that requires that,” Commissioner Carolyn Cooper said. “So my request would be that we either reduce the number to five — so we everyone has just one appointee — or we increase the number to 10, so that everybody has two appointees.

“My personal preference, (because) it’s in the summer and a lot of people are traveling, would be to actually increase the number to 10 and allow equal people to be appointed by each commissioner,” she said. “I think it will give us more balance, and I think that’s a very positive thing.”

The way the motion was set up, Mayor Steve Leary and each commissioner would be allowed to nominate a member, while Leary would also be able nominate an addition two members at-large that will require approval from the commission. From those members, the committee also will elect a chair and vice chair.

Cooper’s thoughts were met with criticism from Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel, who felt the process used throughout the years worked fine.

In the end, Cooper’s suggestion of a 10-member committee failed. The commission then adopted the original resolution calling for a seven-member committee in a unanimous 5-0 vote. It goes into effect immediately.

The second resolution sought to establish the Library Site Evaluation Advisory Committee, which would do as it names implies — create a committee to evaluate the reuse of the library site located at 460 E. New England Avenue.

With the future arrival of the new public library, the committee is tasked with researching possible ways to utilize the land.

Commissioner Greg Seidel started off the conversation by discussing the importance of representation that each commissioner would have on the committee. 

“I think it would be good if each commissioner had a person who would represent them on this issue,” Seidel said. “In this case, deciding what to do with the library site, I would like to have someone that I appointed that is able to tell me what is going on.”

Leary express concern with focusing on the individual members of the committee.

“We have to get this process started — that building will be vacant in the next year-and-a-half to two years,” Leary said. “We’re starting the conversation — this is just the beginning of the process. I think we run a very real risk of creating continued division when we start to say, ‘These are his people or her people,’ instead of, ‘This is a task force that reports to the commission.’”

The biggest complaint regarding the establishing of the committee came from Cooper, who questioned the actual need for it.

Cooper said she saw the decision-making and everything it entails as a responsibility of the commission — and not a committee.

“My question is not who we appoint, but whether we should be establishing a committee for this at all,” she said. “My opinion is that we should not. This is a highly controversial piece of property, and I do not believe it should be deferred to a temporary committee to make recommendations. The commission is informed and we are prepared to make the decision making the library and we should own it. I see no legitimate need for this committee.”

Ultimately, the commission passed the resolution 4-1, with Cooper dissenting.

Troy Herring is the sports editor at the West Orange Times and Windermere Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Mount Olive (BS '12) and the University of Alabama (MA '16)....

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