There is an ongoing theme in the mismanagement of Winter Park. It always seems to involve dogs and their leavings.
Dog lovers love Fleet Peeples Park. An organization was formed in 2001 to support and promote the park as dog friendly. Learn more about Friends of Fleet Peeples Park. With the Baldwin Park area maturing and more dog owners learning about Fleet Peeples Park there has been an increase in usage that has stirred the concern of some, which is understandable.
However, the real issue may prove to be with the people David Strong appointed to the City Parks and Recreation Commission.
A Master Plan for Fleet Peeples Park was approved by the City Commission on April 14, 2008 (see page 41 of the Agenda Packet and page 8 of the Minutes). This plan included breaking up the 23 acre park so that roughly half was available to dog owners (a significant compromise for dog owners). The approval included a requirement for the Friends of Fleet Peeples Park to meet with the Parks and Recreation Commission to “create a set of guidelines outlining the responsibilities of both parties.”
The Friends of Fleet Peeples Park have been trying to meet with the Parks and Recreation Commission to review and agree upon a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) defining responsibilities as required by the April 2008 City Commission adoption of the Master Plan. The Parks and Recreation Commission has continued to put this off and voted last evening not to consider the MOU but instead begin looking for other city parks that may be suitable for dog owners. Consideration of this course of action was not included in the public agenda of the meeting. In other words, screw the dog owners.
It now seems that members of the Parks and Recreation Commission are intentionally undermining the prior adoption of the Master Plan for Fleet Peeples Park to pursue their own agendas (whatever that may be).
This is disturbingly similar to the behavior of members of the Planning and Zoning Commission whose Comprehensive Plan serves their personal agendas at the expense of legal and legitimate rights of the citizens their policies impact.
Why do I focus on what may seem to be minutia? Because it is just more evidence that we have a big management problem. The problem is David Strong and his penchant for promoting people for city boards (let alone City Commission seats) that have questionable credentials, narrow viewpoints, and personal agendas.
A member of the Park and Recreation Commission resigned this morning noting,
“Due to the actions of the board and the conduct of certain members of the board I do not feel that I can effectively serve the best interests of the people of Winter Park nor can I condone the actions taken by this board contrary to the directives of the City Commission and the will of the public at large ie. April 14, 2008 motion to approve Master Plan Fleet Peeples Park..
It is not my wish to specifically call out any member of the board for their actions however I feel that the actions of certain members have been abusive, rude and an embarrassment to the city.
Further, in the meeting of February 25, 2009 certain actions were taken by the board which indicated there may have been collusion and ex parte communications in violation of S. 286.011, F. S. “The sunshine law” Since I am unable to determine whether these actions were subject to the state statutes I am compelled to resign.”
Apparently our City Commission supports the Dog Park as reflected in the statement of the Park and Recreation board member who resigned, …”nor can I condone the actions taken by this board CONTARY to the DIRECTIVES of the City Commission…” How is Mayor Strong responsible for the personal belief of any board member? Additionally, do you feel all board members appointed by Mayor Strong over the past three years are controlled by the personal beliefs of the Mayor? If so, why then is there dissent on any issue? Lastly, Mayor Strong did not elect any Commissioner, we the people of Winter Park elected our Commission and our Mayor. It is my belief that all citizens of Winter Park should support whomever we feel best represents our own personal beliefs and accept that sometimes we are in the majority and sometimes we are in the minority on issues that are important to us. However, when we are in the minority, we should agree to disagree and everyone should work TOGETHER to make our city the best that it can be. Mr. Weldon, I appreciate the time you give to our city but I disagree with the personal attacts on any of the citizens of Winter Park who, like you, are conpassionate in their beliefs about how to build a better community. I cannot think of any two people who agree on every issue about anything. Let us all have the latitude to promote our own beliefs and agree to disagree with those who have a different opinion.
Thank-you for taking the time to comment.
I do not believe that a Mayor is responsible for the personal beliefs of any board member.
I do not believe that board members appointed by David Strong are controlled by David’s personal beliefs.
However, the Mayor appoints all board members by City Charter and as such, bears a measure of responsibility for their behavior (as distinguished from their beliefs). The city relies on the judgment of the Mayor to maintain rational, positive, and professional governance of our City through his board appointments.
I can point to several board members appointed by David Strong who play political games in pursuit of personal agendas and who demonstrate no interest what so ever to “work TOGETHER” to make our city better. These people have no place in city government. Our city is not a playground where those seeking political influence somehow earn the right to impose their personal agendas. Yet, this is the perspective of more than one City Commission member and of numerous board members, thanks to the poor judgment of David Strong.
I do not believe that all citizens should support whomever they feel best represents their personal beliefs.
I believe that all citizens should support whomever they believe will best serve the long term interests of Winter Park.
I believe I understand the difficulties with “personal attacks.” It is very important to distinguish personal attacks from criticism. David Strong and I share some of the same perspectives, in fact. He has noted several times that every citizen should run for office or otherwise seek to serve the city in some capacity. I share this view. David has made an effort to appoint some board members (including me) whose views about city policy differ from his own, and from those he has helped most to gain influence over city policy. David has also rather recently offered some perspectives and votes that demonstrate a semblance of common sense. However, taken as a whole and based on his track record, David Strong is not an effective leader for Winter Park.
Well said Pete.
I was at the Parks Commission meeting in February re Fleet Peeples Park and can say I was embarrassed for the City the way one member of the Parks Commission in particular behaved to members of Fiends of Fleet Peeples; this particular Park Commissioner was demeaning, nasty and basically accused them of cooking the FFP books. Is that kind of behavior ever necessary or what we want in people representing Winter Park? People who behave like this do not belong in public service.
Thanks for this awesome blog. One question: Why is it okay for a nonresident of Winter Park to have a say on any City Board? According to the regulations for the City Boards, there is no residency requirement for serving on the Parks & Recreation Board. So technically and legally, a nonresident on the P&R Board has the right to tell me, a Winter Park resident, how I may or may not use the parks in Winter Park. This seems a bit skewed.
In my view the boards need to have the most experienced and competent people willing to serve the city. While I certainly prefer Winter Park citizens on all boards I can also see value in having non-residents serve where particular needed expertise is not otherwise available (landscape expertise for example on the Parks board). It is also possible that a non-resident may bring a valuable measure of independent judgment to issues that may be highly politicized by citizens. People volunteer to serve on boards and that the appointment power of the Mayor under the Charter is limited to those who apply.
The recent (and on-going) dustup over dogs on Park Avenue seems very narrowly targeted, IMO. Interesting how the Parks Board is happy to make an exception for the Farmers Market and Christmas Parades (based on “historic precedent”) but the push to enforce a regulation that has been ignored over the past 5 years seems more like a targeted move – against an openly LGBT business on the avenue. I personally hope that Doggie Door moves its Art Festival to the more welcoming neighborhood of Baldwin Park, taking with it the 10K+ patrons who continue to grow that festival. After all, Winter Park wants to be pretty – not tolerant or inclusive.
Well, the painful truth is that we had former commissioners make some decisions that brought upon us the wrath of a small group of extremely self righteous, inexperienced, thoughtless, one dimensional isolationists who have made inroads into both our city commission and our city boards. I know that “insulting them” does no good but we can no longer afford to play polite games. The people of Winter Park need to either wake up or wait until these people die to look forward to the prospect of reasoned, experienced, and thoughtful leadership. While it looks like we now have three members of the commission who may at least assure that significant mistakes aren’t made, we still have a majority of apologists for the crazies. We need leadership that takes immediate and forceful measures to remove this nonsense from the governance of our city. The continual controversy over canines is just a symptom (you might want to check out what they have done with our Comprehensive Plan: http://www.winterparkperspective.org/category/development/).
I thank Ken Bradley for standing up to the continuous nonsense by the anti-dog people. If the Friends of Fleet Peoples don’t raise $100,000, the bathrooms aren’t built. Big Deal. If they raise it, the bathrooms will be built. Whoopdeedoo.
Whether Friends raise the money or not, the city will still patrol, lock up, open up and clean up every day.
Who cares if it takes 10 years for the Friends to raise $100,000? The park is still going to be there.
The bigger question is why is this “Friends” group being cast as an enemy of WP? Most of whom are citizens of WP. Is that leadership?
While the issues of maintenance of a dog park are more complex, expensive, and worthy of resolution than you imply, your concerns about leadership are extremely well taken.
When “the maddening crowd” of continual whiners have votes on the commission nothing construction gets done and we waste endless years putting silly and/or unenforceable laws into place that only serve as salve for the benefit of those complaining.
Let’s stop to nonsense.
My point about maintenance is this park will never be funded by anyone except the WP taxpayer. Any income from fees would be gobbled up in overhead to collect same revenue. So, it’s always going to be a free, open park generally policed by its users. The only way to regulate this park is through operating hours and perhaps closing it 1 or 2 days a week.
I am still waiting to hear about the “2 recent incidents” that were described by a commissioner as being potentially very serious. When the Mayor called her bluff she didn’t disclose them. I think she’s making this stuff up as she goes along.
Irony is that when the hurricanes swept through Fleet in 2004, it was the dog people who were out there cleaning up, putting in temporary fencing, clearing away the debris. . .without financial recompensation from the City either. Don’t recall too many folks pitching in at the other parks in the City though. . .yet it’s the k9 crowd that gets blames for lack of upkeep? Insane.