Skip to content

DeCiccio Needs an Opponent

Our city would be well served by an experienced and sensible resident standing up to run for Mayor against Sheila DeCiccio. Click here for Winter Park election information. You have until December 11 to get your name on the March 19, 2024 ballot.

DeCiccio does not have the character, discipline, or common sense to be Mayor of Winter Park.

Shortly before her election in 2020, DeCiccio publicly supported the original Orange Avenue Overlay changes. Many residents voted for her because of her vocal support for the overlay. See this video.

Immediately after her election, DeCiccio worked out of public view to rescind the Orange Avenue Overlay, contradicting her electioneering posture. See this email. A recent judicial ruling pertaining to this matter confirms DeCiccio’s role in leading the rescission (see pages 3 to 7).

Since being elected, DeCiccio has continued to dissemble and intentionally withhold material facts on important issues. See this post.

In addition to her character flaws, DeCiccio has proven to be a spendthrift, aggressively pushing millions in spending without going through the public budgeting process. See this post. She also pushed to spend millions on meaningless land on Fairbanks, and recently voted to make a $6.3 million offer for land at Denning and Orange (which offer fortunately was not accepted). She also supported the waste of $15 million in “free” Federal money from the so-called American Rescue Act.

Finally, DeCiccio has pursued this wasteful spending in the complete absence of any credible plan or vision. She spends millions and adds to our overhead without benefiting our residents or our local businesses.

It is time for new leadership.

Posted in Policy.

Speak Up On Our Financial Mess

Long time Winter Park resident Pitt Warner recently wrote to the city commission (see below). Mr. Warner is 100% correct and residents need to speak up. This commission has wrecked our financial circumstances is just a few years. Read the 2024 city budget up for a final vote on September 27. The budget projects a further decline in our reserves as a percentage of our annual spending and projects further losses well into the future. I documented several of the judgment errors of this commission in prior posts and will be publishing more shortly. Please read Mr. Warner’s letter below and write to the commission telling them to reduce spending.

Mayor and Commissioners,

Inflation is a reality. Most WP taxpayers have felt the effects. Most taxpayers are cutting back a little/a lot. The 5 of you seem not to be concerned about being thrifty stewards for the taxpayers. You’re more concerned about spending money to fix imaginary problems. A greenspace shortage? A $1M traffic pacifier on Aloma? A $150,000 construction manager to oversee an overreaction to a once in 50 year rainfall? An IRP manager for electric utility? More cops/fire?  An electric riding mower that costs 3X that of a gas mower? Denning Ave. turn lane that costs a couple million to save a few seconds? (maybe get FDOT to add 10 seconds to the green light?) And the money pit that is OAO? How is it possible to screw up a prime piece of commercial real estate in one of the country’s most desirable, small cities and leave taxpayers “holding the bag!” Seriously?

And please tell the Winter Park Land Trust to buy land with their own money and not drag the taxpayers into their NIMBY campaigns. Tell them to buy land, not influence. 

All of you seem to be oblivious to the majority of WP taxpayers. Property tax revenue has increased in the last 3 years and you’ve spent every nickel. Every one!  The city’s 2020 pro-forma forecast over $27 million in property tax revenue for 2024. It’s projected in this year’s budget to be $34,000,000. A 25% difference. And every penny is spent! 

How about a 3% reduction in spending? Not everyone can brag they bought an overpriced, vanity EV ( so why not show the taxpayers you understand reality. Delay a few hires, chop Aloma “crisis” plan (traffic counts are slightly down in last 20 years), prioritize stormwater with that department’s annual plan, not another expensive bureaucrat, adjust traffic lights, cut out expensive consultants/reports. Tell residents that now is the time to be prioritizing savings, not spending. Set an example of responsibility. Property tax revenue increases are not guaranteed.  

Most people will appreciate the honesty.  

Pitt Warner

Please write to the commission and tell them to reduce spending.

Posted in Policy.

City Commission Blows Up Our Finances!

By my estimates, this city commission has already wasted over $30,000,000 in little more than three years. More details in a followup post.

Now, they have just voted 3-2 to waste an additional $6,326,000 as a firm offer to purchase the Bank of Ozarks property abutting Pointless Park. The offer is good for 21 days from September 13. Commission members DeCiccio, Weaver, and Sullivan voted in favor, Anderson and Cruzada voted no.

Click here to email the commission and tell them to STOP. Tell them to hold a special meeting to immediately rescind this offer.

Please also file to run for city commission in March 2024. Information on running is here. I have heard that Anderson does not plan to run for re-election and that DeCiccio will run for Mayor, freeing up her current seat. So, there may well be two seats available next year. PLEASE give this serious consideration. Save our city from an ideologically driven, profligate, and unreasoned commission.

Should Bank of the Ozarks agree to this offer, the commission has agreed to borrow at least $4,500,000 and add existing funds to complete the purchase. You have no vote on the borrowing related to this purchase as the City Charter allows a simple majority of the commission to issue general obligation bonds for park acquisition without a citizen vote.

The debt service alone for this purchase will consume most of our annual planned budget contingency, every year. Further, the purchase will require million$ in additional new revenue beyond the debt service to clear, improve, and maintain the property. This purchase offers no meaningful benefits and will drive an increase in our property tax rate.

Tell them to STOP.

More on this and other commission reckless spending forthcoming.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Posted in Policy.

Tagged with , .

Stop the Land Purchases

Please contact the Mayor and Commissioners and tell them to stop wasting our money!

Winter Park requires park and recreation land be at least ten acres per 1,000 population, or 300 acres of park based on a population of 30,000. We now have 471 acres of park land, or 157% of the requirement. Further, Winter Park is completely built out with no land available for residential development that would increase usage of our existing parks.

Now, the city commission is about to commit to purchase 1.88 acres at the corner of Denning Drive and Orange Avenue for over $6,000,000 and dedicate it as more park land. There is no use plan for this new “park” and no funding to buy it, improve it, or maintain it. This land is across the street from “Pointless Park” which has already cost us over $8,000,000 in direct cost and opportunity cost.

Note that this land abuts the railroad tracks, is across the tracks from the existing 7 acre Azalea recreation center and is about 1,000 feet from Mead Garden, a 50 acre passive park.

Please contact the Mayor and Commissioners and tell them to stop this land acquisition.

Other insights:

  • The commission can buy park land without voter approval. Perhaps we need to change the City Charter on this point.
  • Last year less than 19% of registered voters approved a requirement that 4 of 5 commission members must approve the SALE of city owned land, but only 3 of 5 are needed to BUY land.
  • They are already spending every penny we give them. Revenues have increased to over $77,000,000 for 2024 versus $60,000,000 in 2019 (increased property taxes account for almost $11,000,000 of this).

Posted in Policy.

Winter Park Needs New Leadership

(Correction: The version of this post sent by email should have stated that the OAO was rescinded after the 2020 election, not the 2019 election.)

After my post about “Pointless Park” I received questions from residents about how this could have happened. Why will we have a park where none is needed? Why are we out $8,000,000? We could have sold 2 acres for compatible development for about $4,000,000 while generating $80,000 per year in new property taxes, and had a new 1.6 acre park. Instead, we will pay $4,000,000 for a park we don’t need and have no new revenue.

Unfortunately, in recent years our governance has gone from genuine concern for the long term interests of our residents and businesses, to policies based in personal political ideology of commission members and their friends. Fiduciary duty has been replaced by selfish ideology.

Pointless Park” at the corner of Denning and Orange Avenues is now formally referred to as “Seven Oaks Park.” The approved name relates to the seven mature oak trees recently planted on the land at cost of over $100,000. The entire 3.6 acre property is to include 2.3 acres of park with the balance being a parking lot and possible buildings for concessionaires. The city (that’s us) will need to pay to maintain all this.

The end result is that the commission has committed $4,000,000 of our money to build a park to fulfill their ideology of “land preservation,” while forgoing the sale of 2 acres of the Progress Point land that would have generated about $4,000,000, plus about $80,000 per year in property taxes, while still setting aside 1.6 acres for green space.

I offer the following background for those interested in how we got to this point.


  • At the time of initial Orange Avenue Overlay (OAO) code approvals in 2020 the concept for the 3.6 acre city owned Progress Point land was to sell it for development while requiring the buyer to set aside 1.5 acres as green space/park. That is, generating taxable development consistent within code while having the new property owner provide green space.
  • The Winter Park Land Trust was started around 2018 by Steve Goldman, a wealthy entrepreneur who spends his time between Winter Park and Marin County, California. The purpose of the land trust is: “to acquire, manage and preserve real estate in and around the city of winter park, florida, for parks and recreational use for the benefit of the general public and/or to plan for the use of, preserve, protect and restore natural resources for the benefit of the general public.” The Board of Trustees initially included and still includes Phil Anderson, Mayor of Winter Park. Contrary to its charter, the Winter Park Land Trust has not acquired, managed, or preserved any real estate in and around the city of winter park since its inception.
  • After the April 2020 election, the new commission immediately rescinded the initial OAO and began a process of turning the city owned Progress Point land into a park at taxpayer expense.
  • The commission invited Winter Park Land Trust trustees Steve Goldman and Bob Bendick to a July 2020 work session meeting promoting the conversion of all the land to city owned park. In an attempt to distance himself from potential tax issues, Goldman, at this meeting, made the statement that he was present as an individual, not representing the Winter Park Land Trust. No one else was invited to present any alternative uses of our land.
  • Winter Park Land Trust trustee Phil Anderson was elected Winter Park Mayor in March 2021. His campaign efforts did not indicate his position with the Land Trust or mention turning the Progress Point land into a city park as a reason to vote for him.
  • The park design and budget were approved in November 2022. The park will cost us over $4,000,000 in direct costs while having an opportunity cost exceeding $4,000,000 (the approximate market value of 2 acres on Orange Ave). If 2 acres were sold and developed to code, we would see about $80,000 in new tax revenue per year and have still have 1.6 acres of green space.
  • In April 2023 Steve Goldman was listed in the park ground breaking media release, participating as Chairman of the Winter Park Land Trust.

Posted in Policy.

Naming the Park – What’s the Point

Let the city commission know what you think about the new “park.” Below is my letter to them.

Mayor and Commissioners,
I note you did not provide us the opportunity to suggest names for your new park.
However, I want to recommend a name that captures both the history and expenditure of taxpayer dollars:

  • The park is 1200 feet from a 50 acre city park.
  • The park is located at the most dangerous pedestrian intersection in the city.
  • You wasted $4 million in direct costs and another $4 million in opportunity cost using this city land for an unneeded park.
  • The park is adjacent to very busy roads and a railroad track.
  • There are few residential properties within walking distance of your park.

Your sole justification for all this waste is to “preserve” land. There is no strategic insight or rationale serving the people of Winter Park that justifies this park. This will go down in Winter Park history as a totally pointless personal indulgence.

The perfect name: POINTLESS PARK.

If you had not reversed the 385 residential units in the original OAO, you could have sold a portion of the Progress Point land for enough money to pay for a park. In that case a park would have been justified by the usage base from the residential units, which would have served to draw more usage and surrounding retail and restaurant activity, as exists around Central Park and Shady Park. But no, you had to indulge a “preservation at any cost” dogma at the expense of current and future Winter Park residents.

How disappointing.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Posted in Policy.

Sign Pollution: There’s an Ordinance for That

By Guest Author Ellie Warner

Here in Winter Park we have a new Sustainability department with three full time employees and a yearly budget of $417,600.  We have a code enforcement department so alert that they flagged one political sign in my yard on a rarely traveled dead end because it was not precisely 10 feet from the curb.   Maybe the two departments could put their heads together and compare mission statements.

Natural Resources and Sustainability has an event coming up called Delivering Our City Knowledge Dock Party. I know this because they have littered two city owned narrow lakeside strips of land on Fawcett Rd. with that catchy acronym on signage.   

Is 10 identical signs on roughly 40 feet of otherwise pretty shoreline ridiculous overkill and perhaps not conservation minded?  It’s a clear violation our city’s temporary sign rules, that’s for sure. Code enforcement would be paying us a visit if we cluttered up our private property in this manner, but maybe it’s all good and unimpeachable if sustainability is in the mix.  

After a city website search turned up nothing, mention of the Delivering Our City Knowledge Dock Party was found only in the minutes of the Lakes Advisory Board. There’s a phone number on the signs, but why no mention or explanation on the city website of the kind of knowledge that will be ‘delivered’ for 2 hours?   So far they have demonstrated knowledge of high-volume clutter, but not of city ordinances the rest of us must live by.  But then again, what is the stated quest for sustainability if not a redundant sales pitch in which “success” means we pay higher taxes?

Posted in Policy.

Renew Your Vote By Mail Request

A new state law requires voters to renew their Vote By Mail request each calendar year. Renew your Vote By Mail request now for all 2023 elections.

You can renew or establish your Vote By Mail request by following the instructions here:

Regards, Pete Weldon

Posted in Policy.

Request Alternatives for the Old Library

The City Commission will consider the proposed lease of the old library building this coming Wednesday, January 11. City staff is recommending against entering into the proposed lease (click here for details).

Please review the staff recommendation and my letter to the commission below. Let the commission know your view on this issue. Please ask them to seek alternatives.

My recent letter to the commission:

Mayor and Commissioners,

Please fully vet all reasoned alternatives to the proposed lease of the old library building. The proposed lease does not substantially meet the requirements of the original RFP given the intent of the lessor to rent the building as small office suites and the lack of sufficient parking for the intended use. Further, the proposal greatly undervalues use of the land and would allow the property to be locked up for 70 years.

  • There is certainly a sales price for the old library property that can secure four votes, and with flexibility in building allowances and use as luxury condominiums, the price likely ranges between $10 and $25 million. This compares to a $4 million present value for the proposed lease payments. Further, as noted by staff, a long term land lease at market value likely has a present value exceeding $20 million.
  • Alternatively, the old library building can be used as city hall with existing parking capacity given the under utilization of other existing city owned buildings.
  • The cost of renovating the old library building to serve as city hall can be accomplished for significantly less than $10 million, and can be financed by leasing the existing city hall property while realizing a net profit to the city annually.
  • The design requirements for redevelopment of the existing city hall property are under the absolute control of the commission. Why not ask the development community what a land lease price would be under different development scenarios?

This is to specifically request that the commission:

  1. End consideration of the current proposed lease of the old library building.
  2. Issue a Request for Proposal to sell the old library land for use as luxury condominiums, requesting a price proposal under R4 Code limitations, and under parameters up to those realized in the adjacent Residences condominiums.
  3. Issue a Request for Proposal to lease the existing city hall property for redevelopment as both a 3 story or a 4 story mixed use building with parking structure. Also, complete a detailed study of using the old library as a replacement for city hall. This should be done as part of a complete space needs analysis for all city operations and staff.
  4. Schedule at least 2 public meetings noticed city wide to review the details of all proposals and studies before making any commitment.

You have an opportunity to create value for Winter Park residents. Please vet all reasonable alternatives fully and transparently. Your constituents deserve this.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Posted in Policy.

Chickens Come Home to Roost

The Winter Park City Commission is scheduled to vote this coming Wednesday, December 14th, on modifications to the “backyard chicken” ordinance. If you want to approve backyard chickens next to your home I suggest you let the commission know now:

The revised ordinance as proposed REMOVES the requirement that applicants obtain written approval for the keeping of chickens on their premises from abutting property owner(s).

There was significant push-back when this ordinance was proposed in 2020 that resulted in adding the neighbor approval requirement. Removing it now does not seem wise. Let the commission know your views on this issue.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Posted in Policy.