Tue, January 23, 2018
Happy New Year everyone! I hope and pray that 2018 will be filled with all the best for you and your family. As much as I am looking forward to this New Year, I am doing so through the context of the year past. Since I was sworn into office in December of 2016, 2017 represented my first full year in office. Much of what we did was expected, but there were some notable exceptions, such as Hurricane Irma. I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of what we did in the District 1 office this past year and some of what we began in 2017 that will carry over to 2018 and beyond.
While knocking on doors during the campaign it became clear to me that our large item pick up for waste removal was lacking and leaving many of you frustrated. I made a promise that I would begin a conversation aimed at improving our waste removal service. I did that and beginning this year you will no longer be required to call in to schedule pick up of your large items. It will now happen on a regular schedule. I hope this improvement in the service will make your life simpler.
Traffic is a constant challenge in our area, we are indeed growing at a rapid pace and while we welcome all of our new neighbors, we are working very hard to accommodate the additional traffic that accompanies this rapid growth. This year we requested and completed 121 traffic warrant studies and Traffic Engineering projects for everything from traffic signals to turn lanes and from crosswalks to speed bumps. We worked with our partners at the Sherriff's office to increase enforcement activities in areas of concern, we compelled developers to install traffic advisory signs to advise drivers as to speed and wildlife crossing and we brought the intersection of Tilden and Tiny roads to design for improvements. I am happy to say that we will also be breaking ground shortly on completing Hamlin Groves Trail giving more connectivity to the Bridgewater Middle School area. We also completed the Sand Lake Road study and will be identifying funding and implementing the recommendations. We have begun the Reams Road study from Summerlake Park Boulevard to Taborfield Avenue, and look forward to implementing those recommendations as well. We have funded and scheduled improvements to much of our infrastructure including Summerlake and Ficquette roads. This is just a sampling of the attention we are giving to transportation projects and we have much still left to do but we are moving in the right direction.
I also shared your concern regarding adequate staffing for our law enforcement. That is why I am proud that our Board of County Commissioners voted for the largest one time pay increase for our Sheriff's officers and authorized the hiring of more law enforcement positions. We are fortunate to have such fine men and women working to protect us and I am proud to be able to support them.
As we grow in this area it is imperative that we preserve our natural world and natural beauty as well. I have worked hard to ensure that developers preserve wetlands and to set aside lands for parks and recreation. This past year we broke ground on 2 new parks in District 1, including our first ever joint use park with Orange County Public Schools, the Deputy Scott Pine Park. I am excited about this new way of partnering with OCPS and look forward to more of this type of creative solution. We were also able to dedicate a picnic pavilion at the John's Lake Conservation area. If you haven't been out to take a look at this hidden gem, please do so, and take your kayak as we have wonderful launch facilities to offer as well.
Speaking of parks, we have a wonderful opportunity with the Horizon West Regional Park. This 200+ acre park (about a 1/3 of the size of New York's Central Park) can serve as an incredible regional amenity to the entire County. At my request Orange County staff prepared a presentation for my board to outline the park's history and possible next steps. As a result we will be releasing a request for qualifications shortly for a master planner to help us determine the highest and best use for the park and to identify funding sources. The ultimate goal is to create a park unlike any other in the area that will have world class amenities right here in our area.
Finally, I had much to learn in terms of preparing the community for the largest hurricane ever to hit the State of Florida. With the lessons learned I initiated a board discussion and worked with staff, building industry representatives and my fellow commissioners, and we have now updated our building code to include storm preparation requirements for builders. I also learned much about debris pick up in gated vs. non gated communities. Taking those lessons I have started a dialogue with my board and we have directed staff to come back to us with solutions that would offer the same level of service for storm debris pick up regardless of whether you live in a gated community or not.
There are thousands of emails and call that we have received throughout the year. The outline above is just a sampling of the many items we have worked on this year. When I campaigned for office I was determined to ensure that this office served the needs of the community while making wise use of our resources. While there is always room for improvement, I believe that we are focused every day on the needs of District 1. Welcome to the New Year! There is still much to do but we have a good start.