OCOEE — During its May 19 meeting, the Ocoee City Commission examined a possible sale of 9.5 acres of a 12-acre parcel of city property for construction of a charter school. Charter Schools Development Corp. submitted an offer of $1.6 million, less than 46% of the city’s $3.5 million purchase price for about 79% of the land.
This property is by railroad right-of-way to the south near A.D. Mims Road, by Clarke Road to the west and by the Prairie Lake Reserve Subdivision to the north and east. Ocoee bought the land from Silvestri Investment Group of Florida in 2006 with the intention of constructing a new police headquarters on the lot, which remains vacant after a decision to locate that headquarters elsewhere.
Hardly a mile south on Clarke Road at its intersection with Silver Star Road is Lake Olympia Square, where a Kids Community College charter school already has commission approval for construction.
This proximity to the property — along with several other schools — and the poor financial outcome for Ocoee were among reasons District 4 Commissioner Joel Keller said he was not in favor of the Charter Schools Development Corp. offer.
“I don’t think our (Ocoee) kids will get in (to the school),” Keller said. “It’ll be a drive school. I’d rather put an elementary school on Ingram Road that would be a walk school.”
Commissioners Rosemary Wilsen and John Grogan agreed the finances did not make sense to proceed with the offer as it stood. Both requested city staff to look into procuring an appraisal for the property before even considering moving forward in negotiations. The commission approved that request, 4-0.
Two public hearings on community development are scheduled to occur at the next commission meeting, June 2.
The first pertains to an ordinance for Arden Park Community Development District, for which a first reading occurred at the May 19 meeting. The petitioner for the district, Standard Pacific of Florida, received consent from the owner of 100% of the property to be included in the district.
The second regards the site plan for Arbours at Crown Point Planned Urban Development, which was moved from the May 19 meeting per developers’ request. Developers propose a multi-family development with 240 apartments of one to three bedrooms; a community building; a pool; a barbecue area; a vehicle wash area; and an exercise trail. On the north end, 25 feet would be dedicated to connect the West Orange Trail to Ocoee-Apopka Road and provide direct trail connection as an amenity.
District 3 Commissioner Rusty Johnson was absent from the meeting.
2014 FISCAL YEAR
CPA Elden McDirmit delivered the fiscal year 2014 audit presentation for the city. According to his presentation, the Ocoee General Fund lessened by about $1 million to roughly $10.2 million — 32% of expenditures and down from $12.9 million in 2010. The Unassigned General Fund was at $7.7 million, around 24% of expenditures.
McDirmit said city officials had accounted for these decreases in funds in their budget and that increased revenue is not always the case. This included accounting for improvements for which the city had to pay, McDirmit said.
In contrast, the Water and Wastewater Management Fund increased by $3.3 million, according to the report.
The general employees pension plan was 93% funded, and the police and fire department pension plans were 78% funded, which McDirmit said were excellent rates.
McDirmit said the city had put money into public safety more than any other area and showed that Ocoee Community Redevelopment Agency funding dropped from around $850,000 in 2010 to near $200,000.
IN OTHER NEWS
• Mayor S. Scott Vandergrift proclaimed May Older Americans Month.
• Detective Leo Gomez received the Officer of the First Quarter award from Citizens Advisory Council for Ocoee Police Department board members. Gomez helped track and apprehend a felon accused of cross-county robberies and convict a defendant on several life sentences for child molestation.
• Robert Cadle, Bob Colburn and Edward Wrobel received renewed three-year terms to the Board of Adjustment.
• The commission approved these purchases: a $24,472 installation of a new heating, ventilating and air-conditioning unit to replace the failed unit at Fire Station No. 26 on Clarke Road; a $20,634.01 utility cart for Parks and Recreation maintenance; and a four-year lease-purchase agreement with Branch Banking and Trust Company worth $1,297,042 at an interest rate of 1.34% for two garbage trucks, a wildland fire apparatus, an ambulance, a fire pumper and 30 airpacks.
Vandergrift reported the Winn-Dixie at Lake Olympia Square is scheduled to close in June. He said he would like the store to stay there because it is the store he shops at and no other Winn-Dixie is in the area. City staff officials said they would look into the matter.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].