Council Watch 


This week's slip-n-slide into the garden wall of questionable taste launched with a particularly harrowing conundrum: things to do in council when a recently retired commissioner is dead. Nearly three weeks ago, Betty Wyman — she of the brightly colored jumpsuits and (alleged) sleep-concealing sunglasses-at-work — passed away. How would the current dais honor her memory? Well, it started predictably enough with a peppy smooth-jazz slideshow (from which dentist's office does the city steal its CD collection?) that included old Betty carousing with children, horses and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then each commissioner (and the mayor) took a minute to vocally conjure Wyman's legacy, a legacy that — if you threw each of these anecdotes into a hagiography generator — seems to be that of a "ball of fire" that "told it like it was" when she wasn't throwing back cocktails at the "19th hole." All well and good, you might think, except that her son was in the audience grimacing through the whole self-congratulatory roast. Ouch.

Item: The city approves a memorandum of understanding for the Creative Village with Creative Village Development LLC.

Translation: More of a beer-stained gentleman's agreement coughed up in the cigar smoke of an oak room than, say, the Tiffany bracelet-rattle of a tense pre-nup, a memorandum of understanding is the city's perfunctory means of saying, "yeah, we're serious if you're serious." Three weeks ago, the city made it clear that it was deadly serious about moving forward with its utopian vision for the Creative Village — an open-all-night virtual-neighborhood videogame — because if they were going to move forward, they had better do it before the federal grant options dry up and any chance of recouping the $90 million required to fill the big venues-financing hole goes away. This memorandum sets the terms under which the "early start period" of the project will be handled, basically allowing the city to maintain ultimate control of the Centroplex property, but forbidding the city from selling any parcels from the property without the consent of developer Craig Ustler's Creative Village Development company. In other words, it's sort of really happening.

Item: The city approves service authorization for a remedial action work plan with AECOM Technical Services Inc for future Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts site.

Translation: Speaking of sort of really happening, the city is continuing its breathless optimism jog through the infrastructural minutiae of its performing arts center premise. This week, they're putting up $430,000 for the remediation of the parking lot right across from City Hall — the very parking lot this scribe sputters into twice a month — so that it can be handed over to performing arts center folks at DPAC. Apparently, based on a study prepared by AECOM, the soil on that parcel of land is contaminated with something (erm, hot air and bullshit?) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection had to get involved. Now the city can unpave un-paradise and demolish a free parking lot, wop, wop, wop.

Item: The city approves an agreement with Mills 50 Mainstreet Company for the maintenance of landscaping installed by the Florida Department of Transportation on Mills Avenue.

Translation: Way back in 2007, the city proposed a plan to disguise the old-Florida blight of Mills Avenue with a series of "intersection bulbouts" (or curb extensions) at two of the thoroughfare's more traveled intersections; each bulbout was set to include six tree wells. Then everything died. A revised streetscaping plan in 2009 was all, "fuck the trees," at least at first. Then it was like, "meh, maybe a couple of trees." Now, with the project running ahead of schedule, the city is striking up a deal with the Mills 50 Mainstreet folks in which that business collective agrees to take care of the maintenance of up to 12 trees if in fact it's not too late in the game to include the trees in the project. That way the city doesn't have to spend any money, and the region gets more oxygen. Maybe.

oxygen. Maybe.

Item: The city approves the FY 2008 HUD-Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program grant agreement with Homeless Services Network of Central Florida Inc. for data collection and evaluation through the Homeless Management Information System.

Translation: Continuing with its signature (and nationally maligned) reasoning that homeless people are best understood as statistics rather than as actual people — because if they were actual people the city might feel bad about its now-legal ban on the public feeding of more than 25 people at once (at least people who aren't paying for food) — the city is partnering with the Homeless Services Network as a manner of crunching the homeless numbers required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to remain in the fold of its homelessness-prevention and housing program. Homeless Services Network of Central Florida already boasts the calculator required for the Homeless Management Information System, so the city will pay the company $15,000 annually to do its homework while it concerns itself with building more empty expensive condominiums for "creative" people. Smile!

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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