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The city’s signature event, the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, debuted in 1960. The idea appears to have originated with Darwin Nichols, an art ist and ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� planning group, and funds were raised from Park Avenue merchants. Adding to the absurdity, a pawnbroker sued Winter Park for unfair competition after the city began selling sinkhole photos from a tent, which was set up as a shelter for security police, while refusing to issue him a permit to operate a similar enterprise nearby. Local geotechnical engineer Jim Jammal described the phenomenon, which garnered national news coverage, as “the largest sinkhole event witnessed by man as a result of natural geological reasons or conditions.” Today, it’s simply Lake Rose. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED As it approached its 130th anniversary, Winter Park was struggling with how to maintain its historic ambiance and village scale in the face of redevelopment pressure. A historic preservation ordinance was adopted in 2001, and two historic districts — College Quarter and Virginia Heights East — were formed by residents in 2003 and 2011, respectively. The ordinance was revised in 2015 to make formation of historic districts easier. But the revisions, which were approved by a 3-2 vote, were strongly opposed by property-rights advocates who wanted historic preservation to be entirely voluntary. Or, they argued, if historic districts were formed, they wanted individual homeowners to be given the ability to opt out. The fate of the revised ordinance was uncertain at press time. In 2011, the entire Downtown Winter Park Historic District was added 60 LIVING IN WINTER PARK to the National Register of Historic Places. But a registry designation, while providing panache, is largely ceremonial and offers no practical protections. Although the debate about historic preservation appears likely to continue, Winter Park voters have approved five bond issues in recent years to bolster amenities and facilities. The first, in 1992, was used to renovate the old railroad depot, where the Farmers’ Market and the History Museum are, and to add a third story to the current Winter Park Public Library. The second, in 1996, was used to buy the Winter Park Country Club golf course. Bond issues allowed the city to construct its Public Safety Building (2000), and to buy out its franchise agreement with Progress Energy and to operate its own electric utility (2003). Most recently, in 2016, voters approved a bond issue to build a new library and event center. The city launched a “Vision Winter Park” effort in 2015 with the goal of engaging residents and producing a document that will, city officials say, provide a general road map for the future by determining how Winter Parkers want their city to look generations from now. Would Chase, Chapman and other Winter Park founders be pleased? After all, they were “visioning” before the process had a name. Surely they’d be impressed that today’s Winter Park has, for the most part, remained the beautiful, peaceful, culturally sophisticated community that they envisioned. But one can almost imagine their spirits hovering over commission meetings and visioning sessions, whispering advice along these lines: “Whatever you do, just don’t mess this up.” ��


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