WINTER GARDEN — When city commissioners voted unanimously to approve the East Winter Garden Plan at the May 24 meeting, many citizens in attendance applauded their decision.
Dover, Kohl & Partners began preparations for the plan to give east Winter Garden a new look in July 2017. City Manager Mike Bollhoefer explained the five big ideas behind the plan.
“One idea (of the plan) was to have one Winter Garden and not have a divided community,” Bollhoefer said. “A lot of times people always felt like there was Winter Garden and east Winter Garden. The second big idea was (to) increase home ownership and housing options within the community. Another (idea) was to improve health, recreation, safety and security.”
Bollhoefer added the other two ideas are to create new destinations within walking and biking distance of homes in the community and to provide continued support for initiatives presently underway.
Karl McKenzie, the president of the East Winter Garden Community Development, attended the meeting to show support for the plan and read a letter thanking city leaders for their decision to move forward with it.
“The East Winter Garden Community Development Corporation is totally excited about tonight’s meeting to approve the proposed plan for east Winter Garden,” McKenzie said. “The development of this community has been the primary focus of the (East Winter Garden Community Development Corporation) for more than a decade.”
In addition to approving the plan, city leaders voted unanimously to purchase three lakefront parcels along Lake Apopka at a total cost of $1.6 million. The three parcels are located at 628 N. Lakeview Avenue, 712 N. Lakeview Avenue and 117 W. Division Street.
The parcels are adjacent to each other and lie between Newton Park and Bradford Park. Purchasing the three parcels creates an opportunity for the city to connect the two existing parks into a large lakefront park.
Currently, there are some residential units being rented within the properties. Until the city is prepared to expand the existing parks, the current tenants can continue renting. The city is using recreation-impact fees to pay for the parcels, according to the agenda.