Oakland commission discusses pedestrian crossing on busy road

The commission will vote on additional safety features on Oakland Avenue at an upcoming meeting.

The town of Oakland wants to add an upgraded pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection of Oakland Avenue and the entrance to the Longleaf at Oakland neighborhood.
The town of Oakland wants to add an upgraded pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection of Oakland Avenue and the entrance to the Longleaf at Oakland neighborhood.
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The Oakland Town Commission has met for several work sessions to get in front of the issues that are coming to the town, Mayor Kathy Stark said, and another one was held Tuesday, Feb. 9, before the regular Town Commission meeting. Town Manager Steve Koontz asked for direction on two projects.

Commissioners discussed a pedestrian crossing concept plan for Oakland Avenue at the entrance to Longleaf at Oakland.

Orange County directed Pulte Homes to put in a basic crossing, but now that the town owns and maintains Oakland Avenue, commissioners want to add a substantial crossing zone. The best crossing point is at Amon Pavilion on the West Orange Trail and Sansparilla Road which leads in and out of Longleaf, according to Public Works Director Mike Parker.

As more residents move into the neighborhood as it is developed, the upgraded crosswalk will be even more necessary because Oakland Avenue is so heavily traveled.

Parker and Koontz looked at the crosswalks on Valencia College’s West Campus and liked the design, which includes attention-grabbing strobe lights. Any improvements would be solar operated.

“We definitely need the lights,” Stark said.

Commissioner Rick Pollard agreed the typical blinking yellow lights are not enough. Commissioner Sal Ramos called it an extra layer of safety.

“I foresee more of these crossings along Oakland Avenue in the future,” Parker said.

The commission will vote on the issue when it is presented as an ordinance at an upcoming meeting.

The second concept plan discussion was on the proposed Sadler Avenue Park. The linear property was obtained several years ago to be used as a corridor for water and sewer improvements; the trail component was an added benefit. There is a small space for parking, up to eight fitness stations and a playground.

This area will be used as a link between the Longleaf neighborhood and Tubb Street.

Both issues will be brought before the Town Commission at a later date.



During the regular commission meeting that followed, Oakland Police Chief John Peek announced the promotion of Curt Crews from detective to corporal. Crews has been with Oakland since 2017, when he joined as a patrol officer. He has worked in the Criminal Investigations Unit for more than a year, and Peek said he did a fantastic job.

Peek also recognized the retirement of K9 Chase following “many years of devoted and faithful service” and gave Sgt. Anthony Vitale a plaque to hang on Chase’s doghouse wall.

“We really appreciation you allowing us to come up here and present our promotions and our officers to you,” Peek said to the commission. “It’s important to our agency and our officers, and they appreciate your support.”



• The commission approved the consent agenda, which included the following: granting an alcohol exception to the Feb. 13 fundraiser at Oakland Nature Preserve; increasing Town Manager Steve Koontz’s annual salary $15,913.51, for a total of $116,699, and providing an additional 5% contribution to his retirement; and authorizing Koontz to sign a grant agreement that will provide $550,000 for the Hull Avenue septic-to-sewer project.

• Commissioners approved the second hearing of an ordinance that accepts a dedication of right- of-way to continue Broad Street to the Lake County boundary.

• The town is planning a small, socially distanced event in lieu of the annual Celebration Among the Oaks, typically held the week before Easter. It will be held at the new Healthy West Orange Arts & Heritage Center and include photos with the Easter Bunny.



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.