By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council representative, District 4
There were two City Council meetings on 4/2/19. We had a 1:00 Work Session as well as a 6:00 Regular Meeting. I've picked out several items from each meeting to share with you. Please keep in mind that what follows comes from me alone. I am not representing City Council as a whole.
Work Sessions are meetings where we hear presentations and discuss topics. They are open to the public but public comments are not permitted. No final decisions are made and no formal votes are taken during Work Sessions.
During today's Work Session we heard an update from city staff regarding our Downtown Parking Implementation Plan. Very early on in my tenure as a city council member in 2015 we began the process of identifying multiple downtown parking solutions and we have been working on them ever since. Today we learned that some but not all of the eight "15 minute loading zones" will be eliminated. I had hoped that since most downtown deliveries like FedEX and UPS occur in the daytime (between 9:00-5:00) we could utilize those loading zone spots in the evening for restaurant patrons or evening shoppers. Apparently both FedEX and UPS are now making a second round of daily deliveries to downtown shops late in the day and into the evening due to Amazon same day fulfillments. Plans are still on track for a new surface parking lot near downtown.
You probably are already aware that passenger train service to Mount Dora is scheduled to end as of April 22 due to the need for expensive track upgrades required for passenger trains. Thousands of people use the train to get to downtown during festivals and on regular weekends as well. Mayor Girone held a meeting on March 22 to discuss this development with stakeholders. He reported the results to us. The situation is very complex since one company owns the land under the tracks, another company owns the tracks and a third company runs the trains. Both Tavares and Mount Dora are interested in pursuing ways to revive train service between our towns but this will be a long term project. Rail service will likely end in on 4/22 and probably won't resume anytime in the foreseeable future. There is strong interest in resuming rail service so we won't give up yet!
During the regular meeting we heard a quarterly update from Dr. Richard Levey who is our Economic Development Consultant. The Wolf Branch Innovation District will be comprised of about 850 acres (6 sq. mi.) near S.R. 46 and Round Lake Rd. He continues to refine the mix of residential, commercial and infrastructure to make Wolf Branch a unique place to distinguish it from other new developments.
In my estimation, the best news of the night was a great report about our upcoming summer camp programs. Parents of school aged kids often worry about providing safe and fun activities for their children during the long summer school break. In addition to the vastly improved 10 week Kidz Quest weekly day camps there will also be an Adventure Camp, a Fishing Camp, a First Responder Camp and a Kayak Camp. The prices are very reasonable and scholarships are available for families who can't afford the fees. This is amazing for Mount Dora's youngest citizens and their parents.
A couple of weeks ago we talked about the pros and cons of beginning our regular city council meetings earlier than our current 6:00 p.m. meeting time. Just for your information; Tavares meets at 4:00, Leesburg meets at 5:30 and Eustis meets at 6:00. By a 4-3 vote we decided to adjust our regular meeting time to 5:30 beginning with our next meeting on 4/16.
Sir Winston Churchill was a cynic with a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. He once quipped that; "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter". In light of what's going on currently in the U.K. and right here in the U.S. he might have hit the nail on the head!
Thanks for the opportunity to serve as your District 4 City Council representative, Marc Crail
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