Oakland relishes 2018, takes stock for 2019

The Town Commission was apprised of the town’s accomplishments last year and given a list of goals for this year.

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The Oakland Town Commission held a workshop session Feb. 12 to present the accomplishments of 2018 and to discuss the 2019 goals and initiatives taking place.

At the top of the 2018 list were lowering the millage rate to 6.65, completing the sewer line to the Florida Turnpike and adding more than 200 new sewer customers.

Among the accomplishments, the design districts were approved in the town, and the commission adopted its Mobility Master Plan. MetroPlan approved $1.2 million for a west-end roundabout for 2020-21. Officials broke ground on the new Arts and Heritage Center at Oakland and learned of a $182,000 contribution from Orange County for public restrooms at the new building.

The Oakland Police Department assigned a school resource officer to Oakland Avenue Charter School, and the school underwent security improvements. The town updated its fire-services agreement with Orange County.

The commission has set its goals and initiatives for various departments. Those included:

• Financial — Continue to evaluate and prioritize the reduction of the millage rate, implement a new billing system and maintain a targeted reserve;

• Citizen engagement — Expand the utilization of the town website and evaluate other forms of engagement, continue Facebook usage, and establish electronic correspondence and emergency communications;

• Planning and regulations — Conduct a development opportunity study, evaluate the speed limit of Oakland Avenue, and update the zoning code and special events policy;

• Arts and Heritage Center — Establish a committee for operation and display recommendations, archive historical documents, work on collecting the history of the town since the 1970s and plan a signature town event at the new center;

• Human resources — Update the employee manual; evaluate employee benefits, holidays and paid time off; and continue developing the recognition program;

• Other projects — Develop a Speer Park master plan with citizen input for future development when funding is available, create a management plan for the Oakland Historical Cemetery and install electric vehicle parking spaces at the Oakland Nature Preserve and the town center;

• Identity building — Make use of the electronic billboard, market the town events more broadly, install monument and gateway signs, create a long-term marketing strategy to highlight the town’s assets and assess the lighting throughout town;

• Administration — Update town policies, participate in long-term planning and management of Motomassek Canal, continue to work on the ZIP code issue and evaluate future town space needs;

• Oakland Avenue Charter School — maintain the structure, connect to sewer and hold a planning study to develop long-term goals for the school;

• Public safety — analyze and evaluate growth vs. staffing needs, maintain the facility and continue the various community initiatives;

• Utility system — Continue to pursue funding to extend the wastewater system, manage the water system by anticipating growth and maintenance of existing infrastructure, pursue sources for reclaim and irrigation uses, and develop a stormwater master plan and a future stormwater utility.

Following the workshop, the Town Commission held its regular meeting.

Police Chief Steve Thomas and Deputy Chief John Peek recognized Sgt. Angela Campbell for completing the five-month Southern Police Institute Command Officers Course. Campbell, the Oakland Police Department’s longest-serving employee, was presented a plaque and commendation.



• The Town Commission approved the purchase of a narrow strip of land owned by the Oakland Cemetery Association in the amount of $150,000. This will allow for adequate sewer service east of the Florida Turnpike/State Road 50 interchange by providing a link between the current sewer improvements at Pulte Homes’ Longleaf at Oakland development and Tubb Street.

The land also will provide a path for another segment of the Cemetery Loop Trail and for future water-distribution system improvements.

• The commission reduced code-enforcement fines that had accrued at 405 W. Hull Ave. from May 2017 to October 2018. The town was fining the previous owner, Samdatt Prashad, $250 per day because of violations including rotting wood, peeling paint, broken windows and a failing roof, as well as overgrown weeds and junk on the property. The property became compliant last October when the new owner, Webster Air Conditioning and Heating, tackled the punch list.

The total fines were $129,500, and the new owner was requesting that the fines be reduced or removed. The commission reduced the amount to $1,660 to cover the costs of the special magistrate fees.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.