By Marc Crail District 4 Representative, Mount Dora City Council
Before I get into the December 17 city council meeting highlights I'd like to report that earlier this week a brief ceremony was held to commemorate the completion of the new reclaimed water line connection between Mount Dora and Apopka. This line will improve our ability to meet the increasing need for reclaimed (irrigation) water for our customers. Using reclaimed water is cheaper and helps to conserve potable water. At certain dry times of the year we have struggled to keep up with demand. This connection will supplement our reclaimed water supply. You might recall that the Saint Johns River Management District made a significant contribution to the cost of construction. As you are driving south on Round Lake Rd. you can see a small light green building just before you come to the Orange County line. That building houses the pumps and computerized controls for the interconnect.
I've chosen several important item from the city council meeting agenda to tell you about. What follows is from my own perspective. While I am one member of Mount Dora City Council, I am not reporting on behalf of the council.
I was elated that we accepted a $200,000 matching grant award from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to help pay for much needed renovations and updates at Cauley Lott Park in northeast Mount Dora. These improvements were a high priority in the Comprehensive Parks & Recreation Master Plan we adopted about a year ago. We are now beginning to address recommended projects and in this case we are able to use grant money to stretch our local dollars.
Once again the most discussed and debated item on our agenda was the final reading of an ordinance approving the PUD development called The Cottages on 11th. This will be a 27 home development on 11th Ave. west of Helen St. It is currently an old orange grove owned by Christian Home and Bible School. Over the past year numerous meetings have been held to discuss the developer's plan to construct upscale homes there. While compromises were made along the way, traffic concerns, landscape buffering of the west side of the property and set backs were all topics of concern for nearby neighbors. One thing that was cleared up was the incorrect assertion which has circulated that somehow the developer would not be paying the required impact fees. This rumor is simply not true. Estimated impact fees for the project are nearly $590,000. Opinions were strong and emotions were high but ultimately the ordinance was approved on a 5-2 vote (Ms Burtnett and Ms Stile voted no).
We discussed the future use the city owned property where the old Public Works building was recently demolished. This property adjoins the Lincoln Avenue Community Park which is slated for renovations. The consensus was that this site would be best utilized for 18 to 24 new pickleball courts and parking. Right now the demand for pickleball court time far exceeds our few existing courts at Donnelly Park. This property provides "shovel ready" space for new courts that can be enjoyed by Mount Dora residents, students from nearby schools and possibly for regional tournaments. A project like this could present another grant opportunity from Lake County Tourism funds. I like the idea of leveraging outside money to help improve our infrastructure. Another valid suggestion is to use this acreage for affordable housing sites. I think that we need to pursue meeting that goal by working with partners such as Habitat for Humanity to use city owned lots in the area to construct "infill" homes.
Thanks for the opportunity you provide for me to be your District 4 city council representative.
My quote for today actually comes from a signboard at Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, Arizona. "Don't build a wall...build a bigger table." Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your family!
By Marc Crail District 4 Representative Mount Dora City Council