Editor, The Beacon:
The lenses on the rose-colored glasses I wear when looking at the Moore Lake deal are very scuffed up. The purchase of the 128-acre Moore Lake land parcel by Volusia County and the City of DeLand for $4.29 million is not the best deal for the citizens.
Having this land in conservation is great; however, I feel the price tag was too much. The owners of the land could have been more generous.
The value of the land in question was drastically increased when the City of DeLand annexed it and changed the zoning to residential.
County Council Member Danny Robins mentioned he would have had better feelings about the purchase of the property if the property east of the property in question were included, which is around a second lake, and I agree.
Perhaps the owners of the other property, DEPROP LLC, led by Astrid de Parry, P.A., will come forward and make a very fair and equitable offer to the county and city. I know Astrid is very community-minded and environmentally conscious. What a legacy she could leave.
As a community, we could have so much more for so much less if we had better visionaries, coupled with better long-term planners and better governance.
Sadly, so much of the development in the area has already been approved, and many opportunities have been lost.
We should never be using tax dollars to buy land for stormwater runoff for new developments.
It is undeniable that this is one of the reasons for this purchase. There were homeowners and landowners from abutting properties in developments who said they didn’t flood because runoff went onto the property in question.
In our euphoria over the purchase of this property, let us please learn from our mistakes, and how greed, poor planning and poor governance got us here. We also must make developers and landowners we are enriching give back more.
I want to thank all members of the County Council for their lengthy and thoughtful debate. I want to thank DeLand’s Mayor Chris Cloudman and City Manager Michael Pleus for their hard work and efforts, which must be taken into account.
I read Keith Chester’s letter about the purchase of the property surrounding Lake Moore. One sentence stood out, as it encapsulates the opportunity for a better future for the quality of life in DeLand.
“As a community, we could have so much more for so much less if we had better visionaries, coupled with better long-term planners and better governance.”
My question: Who was the visionary, the long-term planners and who was behind guiding our County and City elected officials to have DeLand annex and rezone this desired conservation land to in effect substantially enhance the value to result in a substantially increased taxpayer cost to acquire?
DeLand has begun updating of the 2050 Vision Plan. Where are the “better visionaries,” the “better long-term planners,” and the “better governance”? Have outside visionaries have been retained to assist? Have experienced outside long-term planning consultants been retained to assist? Have the resources committed to the process of updating been committed?
We have seen what happens when inadequate commitment and inadequate public participation results in unintended recommendations promoted by just a few who showed up at public meetings–the West Voohris Street Scape project proposal.
The DeLand Community has a short window of opportunity to guide the future growth and development of DeLand through active participation in the update of the Vision 2050 Plan process now underway, and subsequent Comprehensive Plan and Code revisions to implement the Vision Plan This is critical to new development patterns and even more critical to the preservation of DeLand’s historic resources. If historic preservation in important to the Community, proactive plans have to be put in place or we will have a series of Hotel Putnam-like demolitions by neglect. If preferences are not included in development regulations, we will end up with cookie-cutter projects that look like what is being built all over 21st Century urban America.
We elect our government leaders not to listen to the advice of the “old boys’ network,” but to represent the values and goals of the Community. But the Community has a cherished responsibility to forcefully advocate what is best for the future of DeLand–at the meetings to update the Vision 2050 Plan, at the Planning Board Meetings, at the Historic Preservation Board meetings, and most certainly, at every City Commission meeting. These elected and appointed officials need our help. If we do not provide it, the “old boys’ network” certainly will.
Frank Schnidman… Everyone on any planning committee and everyone elected to the County Council and a city commission should read Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Build American Prosperity. It is a book of forward-thinking ideas that breaks with modern wisdom to present a new vision of urban development in the United States…. Forward thinking starts with education and that education can come in many forms from many sources to include visiting other cities and communities to learn from their successes and failures. Winter Garden, Winter Park, Mt. Dora, and Sanford locally are good starts and Savannah Ga also has much to offer.
Dear Keith–You are so right!
Education is the key, and as former DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar recommended in his departing “Wish List”, DeLand needs an educated citizenry to help create a better future–and he called for the establishment of a “Citizens Academy.” He stated:”A Citizens Academy is a higher priority now; a lot of current residents do not have a good understanding of the way government works and how decisions are made, particularly in the area of development planning.”
And, an additional book I recommend is Sandra Walters The Story of Thornby: How Ordinary People Took on Government. This is “The grassroots saga of a community’s grit, guts and determination to preserve its history.”