By Marc Crail
Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
I'm happy to give you this update on the March 25 Mount Dora City "Work Session." I am just one of seven city council members and not its spokesman. I selected 3-4 items covered at the meeting and briefly report on them for your information. I try to be unbiased in my reports, but what you're receiving is strictly from my perspective.
Mount Dora City Council met today at the W. T. Bland Library for a public "Work Session". We met from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. The format of a city council work session allows for discussion in a public setting but no votes are taken. Sometimes a consensus can be reached but not formalized until a subsequent City Council meeting. There were 10 items on our agenda today. Here are my thoughts on what I considered to be the most important three.
You might recall that last year Eustis surprised us by demanding that tens of thousands of acres of land outside of their current city limits (in unincorporated areas of Lake County) be designated as theirs to annex for their future growth. At that time I termed the actions by Eustis to be an unprecedented "land grab". If it were to go forward it would severely limit Mount Dora's future growth. They have persisted in their efforts. This dispute over our Interlocal Services Boundary Agreement (ISBA) with Eustis has reached a point where our City Manager and our legal counsel will be meeting with their counterparts from both Eustis and Lake County on Monday, March 27. I don't believe that Eustis officials will be willing to agree to a reasonable compromise. If not, more meetings including both city councils will be the next step in this mediation process. Stay tuned for future developments.
Last summer during the budget building process one proposal we dealt with was a request for $91,000. to replace and upgrade the sound system in the Community Building. I believe that this is a valid request and at that time I suggested that we allocate 50% of that money (about $46,000.) and I was assured that the remaining 50% could be raised through private donations. Bids for the sound system project have come in somewhat higher than city staff had anticipated and now the total cost will likely be about $100,000. To date, about only about $15,000. has been donated. I believe that concert promoters should be charged higher rents since they will benefit from the new sound system and will save substantial money by using our new sound system instead of renting equipment.
I am waiting to see if a new facility rental fee schedule can be developed to offset the extra cost we are now being asked to pay for the sound equipment. I sincerely hope that we can get the new equipment as requested but I feel we need concert promoters to pay their fair share. It seems doable to me.
We spent the biggest share of our time today looking at options for added surface parking lots to help alleviate the shortage of downtown parking. I like the idea of pursuing multiple partial solutions rather than looking for one mega-solution. Eight possible parking lots have been identified in and nearby downtown. There is a real sense of urgency about tackling our parking issues. Look for this to be at the forefront on your City Council's agendas in the upcoming months.
Credit Buddha with saying: "Three things cannot hide for long. The Moon, the Sun and the Truth."
These were tough, complex issues we discussed today. I hope we can find a way forward on each of them. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to be at the table!
- Marc Crail, Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
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