COUNCIL WATCH 


Like a wake that nobody showed up to, an empty, roped-off media area in the City Hall rotunda (there would be a ceremonious, superfluous sign-off on the venues deal, post-dais) seemed to say it all about this week's meeting: pretty vacant. Interestingly enough, District 2 commissioner Betty Wyman was absent again (was this her wake?), and there would be no mention of the Robert Stuart Jr./Sheri McInvale indictment that broke the week before onto the lap of District 3 commissioner — and proud father — Robert Stuart.

Wait, did the city council meeting actually happen this week? Crowds could be seen dozing as District 6's own Sam Ings gave one of his signature Ings-vocations, thanking God for business and accidentally praising "fire" instead of firemen. Maybe it was all a dream.

Pinch! Nope.

Pinch! Nope.

Item: The city approves a brownfield site remediation agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation.

Translation: What's that smell? It isn't just the rotting pork and ratty red tape of last month's micromanaged deal with the devil that's steaming up the future events center site. No, there are bigger problems beneath: a veritable graveyard of a formerly industrial economy, runoff included. To purify the muck, the city is tapping into the state's brownfield program — basically a kickback for those who choose to make old and dirty new again — which will produce corporate income-tax credits for up to 50 percent on up to $500,000 of remediation costs. Apparently, these credits are a "marketable commodity" and can return up to 80 cents on the dollar. Does shit not stink?

Item: The city approves service authorization with Carter & Burgess Inc. to design wastewater service for the new event center.

Translation: Ah, the sweet trickle of commerce. The current wastewater line runs through the middle of the event center site, and although it would be fun to imagine the whole thing being like a giant gay-porn gym shower with a drain in the middle, it probably wouldn't be practical. To correct the flow of warm juices, the city's throwing $84,753.60 at its wastewater buddies Carter & Burgess, who will consult with enough minority groups to conjure up a plan that makes everybody happy.

Item: The commission approves a development agreement between the city of Orlando and Universal City Development Partners relating to Lot 11A and the Universal City Master Plan.

Translation: This is the much-ballyhooed (for those attached to the local news blotter, anyway) on-site housing project over at Universal. Some bush-and-binocular neighbors — this means you, Carolyn Ragans and Ted Tryba — raised a stink about threats to their property value and the general undesirableness of the rental lifestyle (or, Spiderman lives next to me! Ack!) and were able to get the city to step in with stipulations. Now the buildings are limited to three stories (45 feet), there can only be 310 units and there will be additional "landscape buffering." A wall of trees shaped like Harry Potter, no doubt. Boo!

Item: The city approves an ordinance regarding marquee signage for the Amway Arena at the Orlando Centroplex.

Translation: Further proof that inevitability produces bitter fruit, the city is finally ready to smear one of the city's largest lame-duck monuments with scarlet letters. Actually, the words "Amway Arena" will be blue, but the condemning "swish" beneath them will be red, because that's the American way. At 87-plus feet wide by 17 feet tall, the "internally illuminated aluminum channel letters" sign will serve as both a beacon of questionable commerce and a reminder of just how lame Orlando really is.

Item: The city approves the rejection of a bid for the Mills Avenue improvement project and Marks Street and Lake Highland Drive intersection improvements.

Translation: As per this week's cover story (see page 15) there are changes brewin' over in the ViMi area. There appears to be a glitch, though. The city only received one bid for the streetscaping — $8,889,591.17 from Cathcart Contracting — and that exceeded the engineer's estimate by $3,335,126.01. (What's with the penny?) Seems all of the builders are busy elsewhere turning Orlando into something it isn't. Related: The real estate market is dead.

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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