I just read this article in the East Orlando Post. Racist, Classist & Homophobic Remarks Made At Save Orange County Meeting. I am not familiar with East Orlando Post but the writer is in favor of the developments on Lake Pickett. I never thought I would see an article with a title like this talking about a development but here it is.
I attended the same Save Orange County (SOC) community meeting this writer talks about in the article and what I witnessed was more of a “SOC rally” than a “community meeting”. It seemed that anyone who spoke in favor of the developments was suppressed by not only SOC but also the crowd that had gathered. I intended on speaking but once I realized it would have been out of place as it was very obvious the rally was geared specifically for those against the developments, I thought it best to be a good guest and just listen.
The entire rally was geared to getting as many people to the Board of County Commission (BCC) meeting as possible. The strategy is to overwhelm the commissioners with numbers and appeal to them politically in order to force them to vote against the developments. This is the only strategy that can be employed as there really is no other legitimate reason to oppose the developments other than traffic. Just saying you don’t want the land owner to develop their land is not a legitimate reason and is sort of hypocritical seeing most of the people at these meetings and the ones that spoke at the Planning and Zoning Commission (PNC) meeting live in subdivisions or lots that are not 10 acres and in fact displaced the rural land they are so passionately trying to protect. I know of only one couple of all the people who spoke who actually lives a “rural” life on 10 acres. That argument will fall on deaf ears so the only recourse is to overwhelm the commissioners and threaten them politically. The map below shows where the people live who spoke. Two did not even live out here.
One gentleman who I assume to be the writer of the article did speak in favor of the “GROW” and as he said was allowed to say a couple of sentences but when SOC realized where he was going with his point of view, he was immediately cut off. He did speak up and ask if it was a community meeting and if he was allowed to express himself and was given a couple more sentences before again being interrupted by SOC and the crowd all chiming in at once. He was subdued with loud voices, shouts and heckling.
It was also interesting that a woman who identified herself as a UCF Professor attempted to discredit those in favor of the developments. I think she said they were paid by the developer to be there and speak and I also thought I heard her claim that flyers have been circulating at UCF recruiting students. The crowd applauded. I would very much like to see one of those flyers. I would also like to know something about this person as I heard her speak briefly at the last community meeting and noted that she started her comment with, “I am a UCF Professor and in my professional opinion …”. Whenever I hear someone start a speech with those words I have to wonder what makes her a professional and how she has a professional opinion. I have been in the middle of this whole thing for years now and the first time I saw this person was at the last Orange County community meeting. She seems to have come out of the woodwork only recently so I have to question her “professional opinion” and what her real depth of knowledge is on this subject. Who does she know? Has she ever spoken at a BCC meeting? Has she ever met with a commissioner? Has she met with OC staff? Does she know the developers? Or does she only know what SOC is telling her and the propaganda she has read?
I witnessed the same type of behavior at the last Orange County community meeting. I was appalled at how the crowd spoke to and treated the Orange County staff and was even more appalled when one person attacked Commissioner Edwards on a personal level by somehow insinuating that being a Republican was bad and that because he lived in Winter Park, he was an outsider. I saw this person speak at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting recently and noted her address. It was interesting that the address she gave was a few blocks off Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. If that is her correct address, I am trying to figure out how she came to be at the community meeting speaking out against the developments. I had to wonder what she was doing out here.
When a person did try to speak in favor of the developments at that meeting he was boo’d and heckled by the crowd as were others. Anyone supporting the developments was never given a chance to fully express themselves. But that’s not how it works down at the BCC chambers. People will not get away with the conduct exhibited at these community meetings.
One woman even called Mr. Nastasi, the Orange County traffic manager, a liar in front of 200 people. She was very worked up and emotional after listening to all the comments being made before she spoke. I wonder if she regrets that.
This is getting nasty with people losing their minds and manners and attacking people because they have a different point of view. I understand this is an emotional subject and people are trying to protect their way of life, but it doesn’t mean we should abandon all respect for one other. It is a very sad state of affairs.
My concern is and always has been traffic. That is what is driving these developments and that is how they have even succeeded this far. Orange County alone does not have enough money to fix our traffic problems. Neither do the developers or the state or the Expressway Authority. But combined we do and that is the only way this will be fixed. Whether you know it or not, the planets are aligned and this may be the only good solution to our traffic problem that we will see in our lifetime. I do not believe they will align like this again.
Our traffic problems in East Orange County will take close to $80 million to fully fix our roads. When you look at traffic you have to think differently. We are conditioned to think in the here and now. But you have to think 10 – 20 years into the future. This was the hardest concept for me to grasp. We think that if money becomes available somehow the roads will instantly appear. But it takes 7 – 10 years to build a road so when you look at a road imagine what it will be like in 7 years knowing the increased traffic that you have seen coming over the last few years.
McCulloch started getting very congested in 2010 and every year has become increasingly worse. It is now a streaming string of never ending cars at rush hour. In fact, traffic has become so bad that our Board of Directors for University Estates just instructed our property manager to investigate what it would take to have an Orange County sheriff direct traffic during rush hour at our intersection of Worchester and McCulloch when the new UCF semester starts. At a cost to the HOA of course. Now project yourself forward 7 years to 2022 and imagine what it will be like then if nothing is done. If you can objectively do that you will realize the real predicament we are now in. McCulloch will be a parking lot. Whether you like it or not, we are dependent on Orange County to fix this problem and you may not like the solution but it is has to be done.
We have a problem that cannot be ignored. Anyone who thinks traffic is not a problem and it will not get worse is not being realistic. And if anyone thinks that widening Hwy 50 is the end all answer, that too is unrealistic. Mr. Nastasi presented the facts but no one was listening. Instead they were finding things in his presentation to attack. But if you were listening you would know that by 2030 all of our roads are overcapacity. If developer money is not the answer then what is? I would like to hear traffic solutions from all the people opposing the developments and give an alternative answer. If you have the answer, please share because so far I have heard only complaints with no solutions. Are you thinking about the thousands of people trapped in traffic everyday and the thousands more that will be trapped if we cannot come up with a solution? Think about this when you decide to speak to the BCC on Tuesday and tell them no. What is your solution to this problem if it is not a combined effort by all involved? We cannot simply wish this problem away.