This question was asked of me in a Facebook post and is worthy of a complete response.
I think Progress Point Park would be a great idea if it had a point. They should have named it “Pointless Park” and here is why.
Think of Park Avenue and Hannibal Square where there are apartments and condos housing people who frequent the retail, restaurant, and service providers in those areas. What pulls it all together and makes these areas a civic and financial success? The answer is Central Park and Shady Park, providing the open and green space that adds value to living in and visiting these areas.
What is the value of Progress Point Park for Winter Park residents and taxpayers?
Monetary Value: They are spending $6 million on this 1.5 acre park. The land has a commercial market value of about $3 million and they have approved over $3 million to construct a park. The commission never asked how they could use this money to better serve the interests of Winter Park residents.
Civic Value: Not much as few people will use it.
- No one lives in the Orange Avenue corridor between Orlando and Fairbanks Avenues and the road sees over 30,000 vehicles per day.
- Walking or cycling to the park is not safe; it requires crossing Orange Avenue or the adjacent railroad track at a five-way traffic intersection.
- The 1.5 acre park is 1250 feet from Mead Garden, an existing 50 acre passive park.
- The “rescission” of residential zoning that incentivizes related development in the Orange Avenue corridor means there will not be any local residents to take advantage of the park, and also deters non-residential development (see Central Park and Shady Park above).
- The absence of development in the Orange Avenue Corridor means the cost of maintaining the park falls entirely on Winter Park residents, who are unlikely to use it.
- Orange Avenue property owners don’t care about having a park as it does nothing for their property values under current zoning.
- The burden to “activate” the park is now exclusively on the backs of Winter Park taxpayers. Even now, the commission is moving toward building a parking structure next to the park at our expense.
Unfortunately, our commission is filled with people who resent private interests and embrace anti-development narratives. Such narratives may apply to green field developments in Unincorporated Orange County but are meaningless and myopic in the context of the 10 square miles that is Winter Park. This $6 million park was approved to satisfy a righteous demand for virtue, not to serve the best interests of Winter Park residents.
Progress Point Park would have been a good investment for all Winter Park residents if zoning incentivized development of residential density similar to that serving Park Avenue and Hannibal Square. As it is, Progress Point Park is a pointless waste of $6 million of our money.