Town hires firm for Oakland Avenue design plan

The Orlando company will expand on Oakland’s Mobility Master Plan and create a concept for development and other projects on one of the town’s main thoroughfares.

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The town of Oakland will be working with GAI’s Community Solutions Group to create a design plan for Oakland Avenue.

The Oakland Town Commission approved at the June 8 meeting a scope of services to be performed by GAI Consultants, a national planning, engineering and environmental design firm. The firm previously has worked in the Oakland Park community and in Winter Garden.

In 2018 the town of Oakland created a Mobility Master Plan that provided conceptual framework for the town’s grid street system, which has been a useful tool for guiding development and various new projects. The 2018 plan called for specifics along Oakland Avenue, such as six-foot sidewalks with six and eight feet of landscaping on either side and bike lanes, but provided few other details. It did not require the town to widen the road or acquire additional rights of way.

“However, the design of the various streets and intersections is too general to proceed direction to engineering design and construction,” according to a background document Town Planner Jay Marder prepared for the commission. “A more detailed design analysis with alternative recommendations is proposed.”

GAI will be tasked with completing concepts for the future character of Oakland Avenue, providing elements of “Complete Streets” design principles for the town.

“The concept and alternatives will be realistic based on base information provided by the town,” Marder wrote. “The chosen concepts will result from community meetings then prioritized for subsequent engineering, construction and funding.”

The idea is to make Oakland Avenue more pedestrian, bicycle and golf cart friendly while maintaining the town charm.

“We think of the word Mayberry, and people laugh about that, but that’s what we try at,” Commissioner Mike Satterfield said. “The ultimate goal is small-town charm. It sounds like you have the vision of what we want. … We have learned so much. … These drawings really need to be as detailed as possible (so there’s no confusion).”

Community meetings will be scheduled so residents can share their thoughts.

“Then we can work off of what the community wants,” Town Manager Steve Koontz said.

Oakland Avenue is included in the Green Mountain Scenic Byway as part of the federally designated Florida Scenic Highways program.



• Commissioners voted to sign a utilities mutual-aid agreement with FlaWARN, Florida Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network, which connects municipalities during emergencies such as hurricanes. The participating cities, towns and counties provide wastewater relief, including tools and equipment, in times of emergency. There are no costs associated with this unless the town requests assistance, Public Works Director Mike Parker said.

• The commission approved the first public hearing of three ordinances pertaining to the annexation, Comp Plan amendment and industrial rezoning of the 6.65-acre Cra-Mar Groves Inc. property south of West Colonial Drive for mini-warehouse development in the future.

• Elected officials approved the final public hearing of an ordinance that sets safety guidelines for citizens who peacefully assemble and protest during a picket. Protesters must stay at least 150 feet away from the residence of the citizen, official or celebrity they are picketing.

• The commission approved the final public hearing of an ordinance that allows the town to post “no parking” and “no school drop-off or pick-up” signs that are consistent with Florida Department of Transportation standards and, therefore, enforceable. The signs will apply to both vehicles and golf carts.

• The commission voted to allow the Oakland Avenue Charter School to continue following its own mental health plan — instead of the plan provided by Orange County Public Schools — for the next school year.

• Elected officials approved the increased teacher salary bases following the legislature’s 2020 increase allocation. OACS was allocated $91,475 to increase the salary bases. The salaries for teachers with a bachelor’s degree will range from $43,615.50 for one year of service or less up to $46,377.50 for 11 years of service. The salary for a new staffing specialist will range from $47,500 to $50,262, depending on years of service.

• In the town manager’s report, Steve Koontz made several announcements: The town will receive a $500,000 legislative appropriation to use on the wastewater lift station, the town was awarded a grant to improve the African American Historic Cemetery, Orange County has posted a bid notice for Oakland’s roundabout project, and the playground has been installed in Speer Park.



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.