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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Friday, Mar. 24, 2017 3 years ago

Winter Park High Schooler Danielle Allison fights to protect Aloma Bowl

Danielle Allison calls Aloma Bowl her second home, which is in danger of falling to the wrecking ball.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

It’s 40 years old. It’s where countless couples remember having their first date. It’s where birthday candles have been blown out and where bragging rights are born.

It’s the place 16-year-old Winter Park High Schooler Danielle Allison calls her second home.

It’s Aloma Bowl, and it’s in danger of being lost forever.

The running hourglass of progress isn’t enough to keep one Winter Park teen and a group of avid bowlers from fighting to protect their beloved bowling haven – which is now under the looming threat of the wrecking ball.

It all began when Allison got the news in late January that the Aloma Bowl property was going before the city for a zoning change.

The bowling alley – where Allison had grown up and created a lifetime of memories – was proposed to be sold, knocked down and replaced with an Orchard Supply Hardware Store.

She’d wandered the maple wood lanes and touchscreen scoreboards of Aloma Bowl since she was only a few years old. Her mother, Cindy, worked at the bowling alley for 17 years as a volunteer, youth bowling director and marketing professional.

“I was in shock,” Allison said.

“I said ‘We can’t be quiet about this, it’s our bowling alley.’ … I’ve been here three or four days a week, and that’s been going on for almost all 16 years of my life now. … It’s like losing a home.”

Allison isn’t a stranger to being a young leader. The sophomore is already captain of the Winter Park High School bowling team. When she learned that Aloma Bowl faced demolition, Allison moved faster than one of her bowling balls roaring toward the center pin. She spread the word, reached out to bowlers and started a petition, which grew to more than 2,900 signatures by the time the Winter Park Planning and Zoning Board saw the bowling alley property request on March 7.

It was there that Winter Park residents spoke out to protect their 32-lane home.

Not only does Aloma Bowl bring families together, it’s one of the last places that many seniors go to stay active, Winter Park resident Deborah Fields said.

“If you take this away from this area, where will they go?” she said.

“The Aloma supporters request that you deny the zoning change and keep our local meeting and reactional facility open for now,” former Winter Park resident Jim Odom said.

“There are enough places to buy a hammer, there are no options for the Winter Park bowling team in the community.”

But beyond the sentimental reasons, residents brought up concerns of the traffic from incoming semi-trucks dropping off supplies and products at the hardware store.

The amount of parking the new hardware store would require was also a concern.

But is it too late to save Aloma Bowl? Winter Park Planning and Community Development Manager Jeff Briggs said that the owner of the bowling alley has every right to sell his property to anyone else, who in turn has every right to build something else on the property.

That’s not enough to stop Allison though, who hopes that the City Commission will hear the bowlers’ plight and vote to acquire the building through eminent domain.

She dreams of a bowling alley run by the community – preserved and protected for generations.

But there’s even more at stake than just a building full of memories, said Cindy, who coaches the Winter Park High School bowling team.

If Aloma Bowl falls, so will the school’s bowling team, she said. The Winter Park Wildcats would be left with two locations to hold their matches: Colonial Lanes, which is already occupied by four teams and doesn’t have room for another, or Boardwalk Bowl, which sits roughly 8 miles further west of Aloma Bowl outside the city limits.

The team will likely dissolve since many of the bowlers on the team either ride a bike or take a bus to Aloma Bowl, Cindy said. It would be a disappointing end to the program, which has been crowned metro champs, district runner ups and state finalists for the past two years in a row, she said.

Allison will fight for Aloma Bowl once more on Monday at City Hall when the Winter Park City Commission reviews the zoning change.

Tim Freed was the managing editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Southwest Orange Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.


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