Healthy West Orange pulls $1M grant from Windermere

The town had been exploring the use of the grant to fund possible renovations to Town Hall.

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Healthy West Orange is pulling the $1 million grant the town of Windermere has been exploring to help fund the possible renovations to its Town Hall.

Town Manager Robert Smith announced the news during an in-person public workshop to discuss the renovations Monday, Feb. 12. 

“Certainly, the news from Healthy West Orange is disheartening and makes this process much more difficult,” Windermere Mayor Jim O’Brien said. 

The original grant agreement was between the West Orange Healthcare District and Windermere Rotary Inc. and went into effect May 5, 2021.

Since then, the town has been engaging in discussion and soliciting public input.

“We fully respect the town of Windermere and the Windermere Rotary Club’s need for time to determine what is in the best interest of the town’s vision,” Tracy Swanson, CEO of the Foundation for a Healthier West Orange, said in a prepared statement. “While the original parameters of the grant are not able to be met, our primary focus remains firmly fixed on investing in initiatives that prioritize the health and well-being of West Orange County residents.”

Council members consented to moving forward with the basic designs of the plans minus the proposed gazebo. The Town Council will discuss next steps and possible finance options for Town Hall moving forward at its March meeting. 

As of press time, it is unclear how much grant money the town must return.

The previously proposed Town Hall renovation plans were based off suggested feedback from the State Historic Preservation Office pertaining to the building maintaining its historic designation. 

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The Windermere Town Council approved unanimously accepting the findings of the Stormwater Management Master Plan at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 13. 

The town first presented the plan at a virtual public information workshop in November. 

“Our stormwater master plan is a guidance document utilized in the long-range planning of stormwater conveyance, attenuation and treatment projects throughout town,” Public Works Director Tonya Elliott-Moore said. “The goal and objective of this stormwater master plan is to provide a framework for flood mitigation and water quality-improvement projects.”

The town has tasked Michael Galura with updating the stormwater master plan. He has worked with the town for many years on stormwater issues and has an in-depth knowledge of the town’s systems and infrastructure, as well as historical background.

The project is a joint collaboration with the Butler Chain of Lakes Advisory Committee.

The town will next start to further explore funding options for the plan.



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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