- July 29, 2016
by Peter M. Gordon | Contributing Writer
WINTER GARDEN Winter Garden commissioners voted unanimously to request proposals to develop a city-owned parcel of about one-half acre at 109 Boyd St., opposite the location for the downtown parking garage. The property currently contains surface parking, which the city will not need after the garage is built.
Economic Development Director Tanja Gerhartz said the city’s goal is to solicit a private developer to build a “quality infill development.”
The Request for Proposal document said all plans must fit the established architectural character of the Downtown Historic District. The RFP limits the building’s height to three stories.
City Manager Mike Bollhoefer told commissioners some developers proposed building a six-story structure in downtown either at 109 Boyd St. or on another city-owned lot. Six stories is about twice as high as the Edgewater Hotel, the tallest downtown building. Bollhoefer said he tells developers that six stories would be out of proportion with the rest of downtown but wanted to make sure commissioners agreed.
After some discussion, no one spoke in favor of developing six story buildings in downtown.
“I prefer three stories, maybe four, depending upon (the) design,” Commissioner Kent Makin said.
Bollhoefer said the city reached an agreement to bring the Cruz-n-Car show back to downtown once each quarter, starting on Saturday, Nov. 21. He said downtown merchants were evenly split on whether or not they wanted the show back; city staff will continue to work with merchants to address those concerns and minimize objections to the show.
Commissioners unanimously approved an interlocal agreement to add Windermere to the West Orange County towns that receive police dispatching services from Winter Garden. Department dispatchers will now serve Ocoee, Oakland and Windermere in addition to Winter Garden. This arrangement will help the four police departments coordinate with one another as needed in emergencies.
Bollhoefer said the additional dispatchers already in the budget can handle the additional calls from Windermere.
The annual cost to Windermere will be $38,192 based on an Oct. 1 start date. Because that date already has passed, the contract will be prorated based on the actual start date.
Winter Garden Police Chief George Brennan swore in two new officers: Steven Edmonds and Gean Torres.
Edmonds was born in Virginia and grew up in the Kissimmee area, where he graduated from Poinciana high school. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 2011 from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State College. After returning to Kissimmee, he decided to pursue his lifelong ambition to become a police officer and put himself through the police academy in Osceola County.
Torres was born in Puerto Rico and also grew up in the Kissimmee area. He graduated from Gateway High School and enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves. His unit was activated in 2007, and he served in Iraq in 2008. His reserve commitment ended with an honorable discharge in 2011.
He earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Valencia, and a bachelor’s degree in that subject in 2014 from the American Military Academy. He graduated from the police academy in Osceola County in December, 2014, and he received the Top Gun award.
Bollhoefer announced the retirement of Deputy Police Chief Bill Sullivan. Sullivan served nine years with Winter Garden after 30 years with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.