The Winter Park Canopy project has taken another step toward construction in Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
Winter Park city commissioners on May 13 voted to move the project forward to the construction drawings level, allowing construction firm Brasfield & Gorrie to hard bid the project later this year and provide the city with a guaranteed maximum price.
City Manager Randy Knight said the city’s schedule calls for construction drawings to be finished by the third week of October.
The vote marks a key step for the project, because the city will receive an actual estimate of how much it will cost to build the project — a number that can fluctuate based on a number of factors in the building market.
According to the agenda item, the total cost of the base project and all add alternates — the porte cochere, the rooftop venue, the exterior amphitheater and the raked auditorium — is $40.5 million. The budget includes all construction, soft costs, furniture and fixtures, as well estimating contingency and owner’s and escalation contingencies.
City Commissioner Todd Weaver questioned the overall design of the project, believing it will be too expensive to build when the actual price comes back before the City Commission.
Based on his own experience as a general contractor and the cost of previous projects architect Sir David Adjaye has designed, Weaver said the two building shells for the library and event center alone would cost $37.4 million.
“I don’t see how you can build this for what we’re saying is $40 million,” Weaver said. “My most important job I have as your commissioner is fiduciary responsibility. I’m asking the commission to delay this vote. … Is this design a good value for our money? That’s what I want to ask you.”
City Commissioner Greg Seidel said it’s best to wait and see what prices come back.
“I’ve been asking about the budget all along and the contingencies,” he said. “In this next phase, we’re going to get an actual price for what everyone’s been talking about, so all the numbers that Commissioner Weaver presented to us … we’ll find out if it’s really that high a cost. I’m OK to move forward to this next phase.”
The City Commission voted to move the project to the construction drawing level by a vote of 3-1, with Weaver dissenting and City Commissioner Carolyn Cooper absent from the meeting. The motion also included the design of the rooftop venue set for the new event center.
The guaranteed maximum price is set come before the City Commission for consideration at its Jan. 13, 2020 meeting. If the price is approved at that meeting, the project is scheduled to be complete for a May 1, 2021 opening.
With Winter Park’s charter currently under review by a committee, many residents from the West Winter Park African-American community urged the city to transition to a single-member district system for Winter Park, meaning each of the four city commissioners and the mayor would represent one of five specific districts within the city.
Residents noted having a designated city commissioner would help the residents of West Winter Park feel like their voices are being heard, because they would have a specific commissioner that answers to them.
“I’d like to encourage this commission to consider putting single-member districts for the voters to decide how the elections should be in order to have proper representation for all citizens in the city of Winter Park,” resident Mary Daniels said. “I think single-member district is the way to go. I’d also like to support that and hopefully encourage you to do that.”
“What we have here is structural racism,” resident LaWanda Thompson said. “What we need to do as a city and as citizens is dismantle structuralized racism in Winter Park. Single-member districts would help move us forward. … Who has the power and who’s been marginalized? Please put single-member district on the ballot.”
City Attorney Kurt Ardaman said the public can make comments to the Charter Review Advisory Committee, which will go through the charter piece by piece and evaluate the public input before making a recommendation to the Winter Park City Commission.
“Then you all will decide what you believe is important to put on the ballot for the voters to consider and vote upon,” Ardaman said.
City Manager Randy Knight added the City Commission also could bring an item up for discussion that isn’t brought forward by the committee.
Ardaman noted single-member districts is within the city’s purview to bring before the voters.
WINTER PARK WILDCATS RECOGNIZED
The Winter Park City Commission chambers were filled with plenty of orange and black as three sports teams and one individual athlete were recognized for capturing state championships.
Winter Park recognized the Winter Park High School crew program, which walked away with its 38th overall points scholastic state championship at the tournament last month.
“This will be my last one — it’s just an honor to row with Winter Park crew for four years,” Winter Park High School senior Aubrey Fitts said. “Because you represent Winter Park, you have certain expectations out of you. There’s certain things that other teams when the look at you they (expect out of you), so you just wear it with pride, and you wear it knowing that the girls before you did this and the girls after you will see this.”
Another team with a history of success recognized at the meeting was the competitive cheer team, which won its ninth state title in 12 years. The championship marked a bounce-back effort for the Wildcats, who had taken second place behind Jupiter High School the year before.
That turned into extra motivation for the girls, and Winter Park made a terrific showing in the finals this year with a score of 91.20, topping Jupiter and getting the highest score of any team in Class 2A.
Meanwhile, the boys golf team made history and found redemption as well as it won the first state championship in program history last November. It was a victory made all the more sweet because of how close Winter Park came to the title last year. The Wildcats finished in third place during that two-day tournament — just two strokes behind first place Gulf Coast High School.
There was also track athlete Elizabeth Nix, who won the state pole-vaulting title — her 10th state championship, with the first nine happening in Alabama.
“I ended up getting second in the state last year, so this year it was a really big goal of mine to win state and actually achieve my goal,” Nix said.
Nix has also competed in the 4x4, the 4x1, the 100-meter hurdles, the long jump, the high jump and the shotput.
The senior was named as this year’s Winter Park High School Athlete of the Year for the girls.