By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
We actually had a series of meetings on May 7th beginning at 1:00 and wrapping up shortly after 8:00 p.m. I have selected several items that I thought would be of interest to you. I'm reporting not as a designee of City Council in any official capacity, I'm only one of seven members and what follows is only from my prospective.
Our day began with a very interesting Work Session. We heard a report from our city's lobbyist about the recently concluded session of the Florida Legislature. While the legislature continues to try to erode "home rule" those efforts fell short this time around with the failure of proposals attacking our ability as a city to regulate vacation rentals (HB 987/SB 824) and attempts to eliminate Community Redevelopment Areas that cities utilize to help reverse blighted areas (HB 9). I count those as victories for cities all around Florida.
We should be closing soon on 2.73 acres of property located on Old Rt. 441 near Eudora Rd. That property costing $400,000 will become the home of one of our new fire stations. You might recall that we will have three fire stations coming on line in the next couple of years. These will replace our two current fire stations and will help reduce our emergency response times city wide.
We continued to discuss our Capital Improvement Budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year which begins October 1, 2019.
We have been trying to purchase the current post office property when the post office moves out late this summer to make that property into a parking lot. The owners have declined to sell and only want to lease the property to us for $65,000 a year. We have decided that a deal will not be possible so we are abandoning our negotiations. We will concentrate our efforts on other potential sites.
City staff had floated an idea to help address our downtown parking issue by adding street parking on Charles Ave. near the lawn Bowling Club and the Mount Dora Marina and possibly on Tremain between the railroad trestle and the lighthouse. We visited that area along with members of the Parks & Rec. Advisory Board, several interested business owners, neighbors and representatives of the Lawn Bowling Club. The consensus was that most attendees were opposed to that idea. Several speakers spoke in favor of a parking deck structure.
During the regular meeting we had a first reading of a proposed Ordinance that would set the city council election qualification period as the second full week in August. That timing would allow council candidates 80+ days to campaign which I believe should be sufficient.
The city manager reported that we will revisit the railroad tracks/train/trail issue in early June as new information should be available by then. It appears that a bike/hike trail may be more likely than repairing the tracks for passenger train service to resume.
Council voted 6-1 (Ms Tillett opposed) to remove a member of the Planning & Zoning Board for conduct that was described as demeaning and inappropriate.
I read a cute quote recently attributed to the Peaceful Warrior Black Belt Club; "Whatever you're doing today,
do it with all the confidence of a four-year-old in a Batman t-shirt". I like it!