Windermere to begin repaying failed pavilion project monies

The Windermere Town Council voted unanimously to pay back $95,621.58 of the original $1 million grant from the West Orange Healthcare District.

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At the Windermere Town Council meeting Tuesday, June 11, the council voted unanimously to pay back $95,621.58 of the original $1 million grant from the West Orange Healthcare District with other outstanding invoices planned for negotiations.

In February, the Foundation for a Healthier West Orange, that now oversees the grants for the dissolved district, pulled the $1 million grant the town had previously been exploring to help fund the possible renovations to its Town Hall following the failed pavilion project.

The original grant agreement was between the district and Windermere Rotary Inc. and went into effect May 5, 2021.

With the cancellation of the grant by both the foundation and Rotary Inc., former Town Council Member Molly Rose, Town Consultant John Fitzgibbon and Town Manager Robert Smith reviewed the invoices paid by Rotary Inc. for services rendered prior to the cancellation. 

In addition, staff worked with the legal team on the existing contracts and cancellation clauses. 

“This is something that’s been going on for several months now since we received the letters from both the foundation and also Rotary Inc.,” Smith said. “I know there’s still some questions on the outstanding invoices … staff would probably recommend having a Town Council liaison, and then with Rotary Inc. they have a liaison as well, to negotiate anything that is outstanding from this point on for the invoices.”

After review, staff recommended the town pay the following invoices: ZHA, project management, $23,850; Professional Services Ind., $1,950 (asbestos survey); Construction-Peace of Mind, $9,900 (demolition); Hunter Brady, architect, $38,100; McCree Construction, $8,531.28; survey by Chastain Skillman, $12,960; and $330.30 in miscellaneous fees.

Smith said in discussion with the foundation, Rotary Inc. has yet to pay back $100,000 of the original grant. 

Rotary Inc. has claimed there are outstanding invoices for additional services rendered, T-shirts and lost profits for McCree Construction totaling $150,589.19.

Town Council Member Tony Davit offered to serve as the liaison for the negotiations.

“Our thinking is that we would like to take care of what we do have documentation and substantiation for and get it on the books for this year,” Mayor Jim O’Brien said. 


In discussions with the Long Range Planning Committee, town staff is requesting Wade Trim hold various public meetings and come up with an overall plan for the future of Town Square. 

The last charette was completed around 2011 or 2012 and is outdated.

“With all of the stuff that’s been going on, especially with the events and stuff that we have in Town Square, we thought it would be prudent to actually retain the services of Wade Trim to ensure that we can have public input … to make sure that we have a plan for the future of what may or may not be developed in the Town Square itself,” Smith said.

“Parks are typically viewed as very special places in most communities, and we know that Town Square Park is the quintessential gathering space for the residents of the town of Windermere,” Wade Trim representatives wrote in the proposal to the town. “As we assist the town in facilitating a charrette process to lay the framework for improvements, our guiding light will be the needs of the community. Through community input and discussions, we will gather ideas to help forge a plan to create a cohesive space for the residents to enjoy alone, in small groups or in larger events where residents of the town come together to enjoy the uniqueness that makes the town of Windermere a special place for its residents.”

Wade Trim representatives will gather as much information about Town Square as possible before any meetings are held. 



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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