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“We won’t spend your money for our pet project!” Sure.

Please review this and then contact to express your opinion.

City Commissioners Phil Anderson and Beth Dillaha have put forth a Motion for discussion at the August 10, 2009 City Commission meeting to proceed with fund raising related to having the City purchase the post office property on New York Avenue. This motion (see pages 54 – 58) is based on the principle that “no taxpayer funds will be used.” However, preliminary financial projections used to justify the Motion omit known critical elements and costs, and significantly underestimate the donations required to complete the proposed project where “no taxpayer funds will be used.”

Based on the contract (see pages 187-230) and written communications with the USPS, the City will have to pay the USPS at least $2,000,000 in addition to paying the cost of building both a new retail post office and a postal service distribution facility to USPS specifications in return for the USPS transferring title to their land on New York Avenue to the City. These monies are absent from the analysis supporting the Motion.

The cost of constructing facilities for the USPS is estimated by consultants hired by the City to be $3,228,000 excluding the value of land to be given to the USPS for a distribution center. This estimate is not shown to include any contingency. It is also not clear whether this estimate has been created based on known specifications provided by the USPS as required by contract.

The City owns a 5 acres site on Denning Drive and has been offered as much as $10,000,000 for this property on an informal basis. In the current soft real estate market the value of 1 to 2 acres of this property given to the USPS could still reasonably be in the range of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.

The City would receive approximately one acre of the current post office property to convert to park. The fair market value of this land as park is significantly below its value as currently zoned. Any fair comparative appraisal of 1 to 2 acres of the commercial Denning property for one acre of the current post office property to be used as park can be reasonably expected to leave at least a $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 differential in value to be made up by donations. These monies are absent from the analysis supporting the Motion.

Further, any proceeds from the sale of City owned land on Swope constitute taxpayer funds and need to be removed from the analysis accordingly.

A more accurate estimate of the total donations required to avoid using taxpayer funds to complete the project contemplated by the proposed motion exceeds $7,000,000, not $2,646,000 as included in the analysis supporting the motion.

Construction costs =                                                       3,228,000
Construction contingency at 10% =                              322,800
Contract value to the USPS =                                       2,000,000
Land value differential Denning vs New York =   1,500,000

As a matter of full and fair disclosure, as a matter of responsible planning, and to fulfill the commitment not to use taxpayer funds; any City Commission agreement to pursue the proposed motion must represent that at least $7,000,000 in private donations must be deposited under irrevocable agreements before the City will be authorized to make any commitment with the USPS to acquire USPS property on New York Avenue.

Further, as a matter of responsible planning the City Commission should not approve any fund raising plan before the City’s building consultant can certify estimated construction costs for new USPS facilities based on plans submitted by the USPS that fully detail specifications as required by the existing contract with the City. There is no reason to proceed based on rough estimates when construction costs can be known with relative certainty based on detailed plans to known specifications.

Note that the City Commission could ask the voters to determine whether to borrow funds to complete the proposed project by referendum. Those supporting this acquisition will not support a referendum because they know it will never pass. It will never pass because it is a bad deal for the City. Why on earth would we pay $7,000,000 for one acre of new park when we recently purchased most of the Winter Park golf course  (20+ acres) for $8,000,000? Well, of course we would not.

Those supporting the acquisition of the post office property are intentionally low balling the amount of donations required to complete this project, hoping they can make up the difference with “taxpayer funds” without us noticing, while at the same time telling us that “no taxpayer funds will be used.” (Is this really the way we want Winter Park politics to operate? Keep this in mind for the March 2010 election.)

Please contact and tell them to stop the misrepresentations and obfuscation. Tell them if they want to buy the post office they should support a referendum seeking the approval of the voters and stop playing games.

Posted in Parks, Policy.

9 Responses

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  1. Sharon Gilkey says

    This really upsets me the same song and dance
    they did this with the Carlise and the taxpayers got
    stuck with the bill when those fund raising efforts failed

    let’s all remember this:
    fool me once, shame on you. (Carlise fund raising that failed)
    fool me twice, shame on ME

    this will be fool me twice to the Winter Park Taxpayer
    if we allow this to happen

  2. Anonymous says

    I understand the obsession with the post office property, but leave it alone. The real estate market will come back sooner or later but until then, there is no urgency. A private fundraising scheme to buy out the post office, if successful, will be a small group of wealthy insiders and groups who will be disrupting WP for their own benefit. Give it a rest, please. The current park is sufficient 360 days per year. You can shoot a cannon off and not hurt anyone on most of those days. How much will an additional park cost in maintenance? Will it be rentable like West Meadow? How many days has W. Meadow been rented? What;s the income? Everyone loves park space but at what cost?

    If this is such a great idea why doesn’t someone fundraise to buy out the block at New England and New York Ave.? More park is good, right?

  3. anonymous, for the moment says

    Ridiculous! We already have green space galore, between the golf course and the existing (expanded) park….. which is rarely ever used. Our green space is lovely, and one of the things that makes Winter Park so desirable, but we have been duped by this group recently, and I hope it doesn’t happen again. If the people who want Winter Park to buy the post office will simply each write big check, it will happen ….. come on people…. it will only take 7 or 8 of you to write a check for $1million….. we all know the little people you have shilling for you don’t have the ability to do that… so, step up to the plate.

  4. anonymous long time resident says

    A microcosm of what is happening nationally. As a nation we are frighteningly in hock to our enemies, have been forced to pay for a “stimulus” to bigger govt. , crony businesses and silly “green jobs”, and now we plan a government takeover of health care which our great great grandchildren will still be unable to pay for, if they are still living in freedom at that time, that is. America will be so further weakened by this crazy plan that we can’t possibly pay for – I really have my doubts.

    And here in Winter Park the elites want more parks on the backs of the taxpayers in a time of incredible economic turmoil and uncertainty. All for a property we have already wasted millions on for the whims of a few. A modern day “let them eat cake”. Or in the memorable words of Teresa Heinz Kerry, “Shove it!”, taxpayers.

  5. Rick Frazee says

    Here ya go again!!!!! The cost to our citizens of the entire 4+ acre Morse Blvd site was in the $500,000. range just a few years ago when our city bought it back from the State of FL. I seriously doubt there was ever a contract offer for $10,000,000. for the site and as we all should know when buying or selling, the only offers that matter are in writing with an appropriate cash deposit. I don’t know many people who would buy your argument that an acre of land at the site of our current Post Office is worth less than an acre at the Morse Blvd. site. As you know I have 3+ acres in the same area as the State Office site. If I could swap my 3+ acres for 3+ acres at the Post Office area I would believe that I had doubled my money. But then I’m conjecturing about this just as you. Let’s just agree that the land is an even swap. Now you have the cost of building the new Post Office and only the citizens of our community can decide if that’s a fair price to pay for adding the open property to Winter Park’s beloved Central Park. The opportunity will most probably never come again. Is it to much to pay for future generation to enjoy? NO! I believe for citizens will agree.

  6. Ted Baumgardner says

    I see no reason to even consider abandoning the present WP Post Office site, since no greater purpose on behalf of the City/residents would be accomplished.Adding or retaining green space where feasible is certainly an appropriate, continuing goal of the City, as a general principle. But the present Post Office space is not big enough to adversely affect the present enjoyment of Central Park. Let this dog lie. — Further, based on “the Carlisle experience,” let’s not get into another mess where the financial aspects thereof have not been assessed to a fare-thee-well.

  7. ed sabori says

    What ever happened to the Beth Dillaha who opposed Commuter Rail on the argument that she would never buy a house without knowing the exact cost….and that without a GUARENTEED funding source the taxpayer will be left holding the bag? Those were my first thoughts after I read your message. I’m certainly not against more park space for future generations as long as we don’t stick them with the bill. Having said that, given the state of the City’s budget and the current economic climate, I think the jury is out on the best approach and would like to have more time to become better educated about the issue and suggest we have more public discussion. Wow, I guess what I’m really saying is: Where’s Beth when we really need her? Anyway, I say let’s keep the dialogue open on all sides.

    Ed Sabori

  8. Pitt Warner says

    The post office site is overblown as a piece of the park. It’s been a turpentine still, a fruit packing plant and for the last 50 years+-, a post office. In other words, a place of commerce and activity. The NIMBYs of the world ALWAYS want to make a park out of piece of property they don’t own or pay to maintain, but don’t want anyone else to develop. Several examples around town. Why not let it sit for 10 years and let future WPers decide the issue? With the West Meadow in place, the post office site isn’t going to be developed any time soon.

  9. Vincent Scarlatos says

    We need to sit back, acknowledge and learn from our mistakes with regard to this site. As a preface, the City hastily ordered a buyout of the developer on the USPS property at a time when there was little or no likelihood that the developer would have moved forward with the project due to constrictions in the local real estate market. It is unlikely that a similar project will be developed on that site anytime in the near future. Morever, if it does, then the future City leadership and its constiuents can address that matter at an appropriate time. Now, the City is again considering another deal that provides little bang for our taxpayer buck at a time where we must adhere to fiscal conservatism. While the addition of the West Meadow is nice, it seems relatively unused by our community. A rare touch football game and even rarer event on the space leaves this “green’ space vacant on most days during the year. Conservation is critical to our community and the parks are at the core of Winter Park’s charm and beauty but this obsession must be tempered with common sense and fiscal responsibility.

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