Who has the right to speak up about Winter Park’s vision of its future?
The Winter Park City Commission took another step toward its upcoming visioning process during its meeting last Monday by sending out a Request for Proposals to find a visioning consultant – a vote that brought up a conversation of who should have a say in the city’s direction.
City Commissioners passed the ordinance by a vote of 4-1, with the one vote of opposition coming from City Commissioner Carolyn Cooper.
The Commissioner pushed for an amendment to the ordinance stating survey input should come solely from Winter Park residents, businesses and property owners.
“I think for this to be meaningful it has to be reflective of the values of only our residents, our people who own property or people who operate businesses here,” Cooper said.
“… For me it is very important that we don’t end up moving in a direction that is not the direction that the residents and business owners in our city are interested in. We get a great deal of input from people outside the community.”
Cooper added that allowing input from developers or land-use attorneys from outside the city concerned her.
“I’m not as comfortable opening the aperture,” Cooper said. “Our dirt in this community is very valuable and our quality of life is even more valuable.”
“I would like to hear from my neighbors.”
City Commissioner Steven Leary said he agreed that residents and businesses owners in Winter Park should be surveyed by the consultant, but added that anyone outside the city should have the chance to submit an opinion as well.
“As we get further down the path, a good idea can come from anywhere as we hear from other people,” Leary said.
“I want to keep it open right now. I agree that residents are incredibly important as well as business owners, but you just never know where you can hear a great idea.”
Mayor Ken Bradley took a similar stance.
“We have people that weigh in on our historic preservation board every day who don’t live in the city of Winter Park,” Bradley said. “I don’t know that we would not listen to them.”
Cooper’s amendment to limit input to only Winter Park residents, businesses and property owners failed, but Winter Park resident Nancy Shutts spoke out in support of Cooper’s position.
“I do want to make sure we do emphasis the citizens,” Shutts said. “I don’t care what other people outside of Winter Park want or think about our community.”
The Request for Proposals was advertised late last month, with a submittal date set for March 3. The selection of a consultant will take place during the April 13 meeting in time for the visioning process to start in early May.