EDIT: The actual title for David Barilla is Acting Executive Director, not Assistant Director, as originally published.
Despite ongoing discussions over the City’s 2024 budget, the Motorized Scooters Pilot Program, and the efficacy of the downtown nightclub moratorium, the most contentious issue of yesterday’s Council meeting was a lack of open communication from the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Here’s everything you may have missed:
2024 Budget Proposal
The meeting began with Mayor Dyer thanking the City’s finance team for a “robust” presentation on the proposed 2024 budget. You can view the entirety of that presentation here:
The proposed budget will go through a multitude of modifications and adjustments before being presented at public hearings in September.
“That’s a little unusual, Commissioner.”
In an expression of bureaucratic strangeness, Commissioner Hill strayed from the meeting agenda to voice concerns over a Municipal Planning Board recommendation to approve a Conditional Use Permit for a small, twenty-student school in Parramore. The request led Mayor Dyer to remark “That’s a little unusual, Commissioner.”
Commissioner Hill called the property owner to the podium to speak to these concerns, which centered on the efforts being made to ensure the safety of children at a school which would operate so closely to the Christian Service Center (Website). “We have a lot of issues with vagrancy and people sleeping on the sidewalks [in front of the Christian Service Center],” Commissioner Hill remarked, “I was just thinking more so about the children coming in and out, and what we’re going to do to protect them.”
The property owner’s appearance at the meeting appeared pre-planned, as he and Commissioner Hill had clearly already corresponded on several occasions about the school’s proposed safety measures.
Community Redevelopment Agency
Next up was David Barilla,
Assistant Acting Executive Director of the Downtown Development Board and Community Redevelopment Agency.
The first order of business was seeking funding for several ongoing Lake Eola improvement projects, including:
- An amount not to exceed $100,000 for Lake Eola Park restroom improvements.
- An amount not to exceed $150,000 for improvements to Lake Eola Park’s Ting overlook, deck, and surrounding area.
- An amount not to exceed $275,000 for improvements to the area surrounding Sperry Fountain.
- An amount not to exceed $750,000 to convert One North Rosalind (the corner property formerly occupied by 7-11) into a pocket park and extension of Lake Eola Park.
As Barilla explained to the Council, the requested amounts were based on construction bids received for the projects. However, Commissioner Gray pointed out that these bids had not been seen by the City Council, which also doubles as the board for the CRA.
“You’re asking us to allow a million dollars [of CRA funding], and I don’t know where the money’s going.”-COMMISSIONER GRAY
Funding for these projects was ultimately approved. However, Commissioner Gray’s comments seemed to incite the frustrations of several other Council members over a lack of transparency and open communication from the CRA on a variety of ongoing projects.
“Please, please, please keep us abreast way before things come to City Council, that’s all we ask… so we can be participants in this,” Commissioner Ortiz told Barilla. He later added that “transparency was paramount.”
Some of the CRA’s larger and longer-term projects, including the Under-i park and redevelopment of the Bob Carr Theatre, also garnered some criticism from Ortiz. “How long before we start implementing these things? Because we’ve been skating in the same rink for a little bit.”
Night Club Moratorium
As we reported yesterday, the Mayor’s office was looking to extend a moratorium on nightclubs downtown. The extension of the ordinance was passed without any public comment or discussion; a noticeable departure from the contentious council meeting back in March when the ordinance was first adopted.
- J Henry’s Barber Shop (Facebook) was issued a façade and building stabilization grant to assist the business in rebuilding following a fire that destroyed most of the building.
- White Rabbit Restaurant and Bar (Instagram | Website) was approved for a Retail Stimulus Grant to open a new restaurant at 27 E. Robinson Street [GMap]. You can read about the proposed concept here.