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CRA Projects In the Big Money Grab

Challenge our commission members to explain how their CRA extension and expansion plan benefits the residents of Winter Park. Demand they put this plan to a citizen referendum. Contact them here: (See my prior post on this subject.) I also encourage you to attend the City Commission meeting this Wednesday, March 27 to comment in opposition to this plan (the vote on the second reading should be about 4 PM).

Again, this plan takes $84,000,000 from residents of Winter Park. This is the anticipated city property taxes taken by the CRA from our General Fund from 2028 through 2037, where it could otherwise be used to reduce taxes and/or increase investments for the entire city (that is, actually benefit the residents). The existing CRA has been accumulating property value since 1994. Winter Park residents need to receive the tax benefit of the accumulated valuations in 2028 and beyond.

Here is commentary on the “projects” contemplated in the proposed CRA plan. Do you think any of these benefit you as a resident?

$9,350,000 on Affordable Housing – Winter Park is 10 square miles. Orange County is 1,000 square miles. Winter Park already has a disproportionately high number of subsidized housing units for its size and population. Why do we need to subsidize more housing when this is an Orange County responsibility? How does this serve the interests of Winter Park residents? It does not. It would just add more people and more traffic in Winter Park.

$16,500,000 on underpass/overpass/crossings – I have no idea why we need an underpass or overpass. Do you? Where? Who uses them? How does this serve Winter Park residents? It does not. Street crossing improvements can be paid for using General Fund revenue.

$27,740,000 on Fairbanks (US 17-92 to Pennsylvania Ave- Streetscape) – This presupposes the city uses eminent domain to purchase the properties along Fairbanks. Why would we spend money on this when Fairbanks is a State road and the majority of Fairbanks traffic is cutting through Winter Park? How does this serve Winter Park residents? It does not.

$18,000,000 on Morse Boulevard (Streetscape US 17-92 to New York) – What is wrong with the current streetscape on Morse Boulevard, what changes are planned, and with what benefit for Winter Park residents? Another case where spending money offers no benefit to the vast majority of residents.

$17,000,000 on parking improvements – Where? On whose land? To benefit whom? Again, pie in the sky with no underlying need or benefit to Winter Park residents.

$8,400,000 on stormwater improvements – This commission recently increased the annual stormwater fee by about $700,000 per year and spent $750,000 for stormwater consulting. This in itself was a gross over reaction after hurricane Ian in 2022 as only about 60 properties experienced water damage (which is the property owners responsibility) and 35 cases of temporary street flooding were reported. There are sufficient resources within the Stormwater Fund and General Fund to address any and all stormwater issues.

$7,500,000 buying the USPS land on New York Avenue – This is a long simmering wish list item for some people that should be the topic of a citizen referendum if and when the USPS decides to put their property up for sale.

Challenge our commission members to explain how their CRA extension and expansion plan benefits the residents of Winter Park. Demand that they put this plan up for a citizen referendum. Contact them here:

Posted in Policy.

2 Responses

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  1. Jim Saurman says

    The CRA is supposed to be used to fix slums and “blight” but the criteria for that is nebulous at best. Lack of sidewalks on some streets, and having a bunch of pallets stacked up next to commercial warehouses does not constitute either blight or a slum.
    And the money collected is supposed to be spent on “Affordable Housing, Environmental Sustainability, and Transportation Safety” but streetscapes doesn’t fall into any of those categories. I do agree that working on the flooding on Minnesota would be a good use of the funds, but honestly, that street has been flooding as long as I can remember, back to the 1970’s, and I’m not sure it can ever be fixed completely.
    Trouble is, things have gotten much better than they were in 1991 when this CRA was first envisioned. Hannibal Square has gotten entirely coopted, and Lee Road is looking much better. So there is a lot of money and the powers that be want to spend it, but there isn’t really any slums left, so they just think they need to spend it on whatever they feel like, which isn’t correct. What really should happen is the CRA needs to be redefined, and the money needs to be spent where it’s really needed, instead of on purely cosmetic improvements to streets and whatnot.

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