• Crissy Stile

Knock Knock. Who Is It? PARKING!

It’s true. FINALLY, more parking coming very soon to Downtown Mount Dora. In the 13 years I’ve lived here it’s never been easy to park downtown. You may get lucky and find a spot, but usually not close to where you’re intending to go in town.

That’s all about to change. During the all day budget workshop I attended on July 19th, it became apparent that the City was finally going to buy some property to add additional parking. The City is looking at two proposed parking locations downtown for surface lots. Property one is the existing post office land on Donnelly Street at 7th Avenue. It will soon be available as the post office is planning to move to the Golden Triangle shopping center on Old 441 near Eudora. The second location is the old horse barn, adjoining house and lot at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Baker Street. 

This Tuesday evening the City Council will vote to approve the purchase of these three parcels at 3rd and Baker. The price: $795,000 + $15,000 closing costs and up to $3,000 in legal fees. If approved by Council, this property would be built out with 50 to 65 parking spaces along with two restrooms. The cost for this surface parking lot (not a garage) is estimated by city management at $500,000 for the parking build out plus $200,000 for the restrooms, in addition to the property purchase. It was proposed with financing from a bank loan, with repayment over 8 years.

The post office property is a bit more involved. The current owners of that parcel prefer to lease, rather than sell, when the post office moves to its new location. I think the city might save much in the long run by purchasing this property outright as opposed to a lease. At that time the city can build a parking garage within the city’s current height restriction of 35’. Space and investment would be maximized by building a parking garage rather than a surface lot. A few years ago, Winter Garden added a comparable footprint garage with 525 spaces.

I am not in favor of a parking garage in the immediate downtown as I think it changes the ambiance and quaint feel of our town. I think the post office property is a unique opportunity.

Now, imagine a parking garage at the current post office location. You park and walk out of this future parking garage onto Donnelly Street. You look South and you see people walking, a park, people playing pickle ball, and you can see clear down to Elizabeth Evans Park and the waterfront. You don’t need directions, you don’t feel lost, you know exactly which way to go.

There’s an ATM across the street, and restrooms nearby at Donnelly Park (and more restrooms added to the future garage). Those are the top two questions I get all day long at my bookstore (ATM and restroom location). It’s a great location for a parking garage with ample parking for visitors, residents, bank employees, city employees, guests attending events at the Community Building and much more.

Now this idea for a parking garage I can support. It will certainly come at a cost. But we are lucky enough to have a tremendous parking problem because everybody loves Mount Dora. But as we continue to grow and attract more and more residents and visitors we need parking, and fast.

There was so much more discussed in the budget workshop and I’ll fill you in on the highlights as the days go by, but for now I thought this was the one topic that everyone can agree we need addressed.

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