• Crissy Stile

‘Wants' make Mount Dora someplace special

One of my opponents is touting that Mount Dora should only spend on what the city “needs,” not what we “want.” I’ve logged over 300 hours going 225 miles since June knocking on resident’s doors. I've heard what our citizens like, don’t like, and think should be done.

Every city provides basic needs: roadways, street lights, public safety, water, sewer. Our city, though, while keeping taxes lower than our neighbors, provides the niceties, the ‘wants’ that make Mount Dora 'Someplace Special.’ My opponent states in his literature and on his website, “Spend on what we need, not what we want.” What makes us different, and the place we have chosen as our home, are the ‘wants' the city government provides.

Let’s look at some examples of the ‘wants’ our Mount Dora provides:

1. Mount Dora has the best library in the County evidenced by the high usage and the great number of programs offered.

2. Mount Dora has 275 acres of parks and green space including boat docks, the popular Palm Island nature boardwalk, an off road bike trail, bike/walking trail, nature park, tennis courts, pickle ball courts and community pool. The city owns a golf course and the land where the lawn bowling club is located (both currently leased to the members who operate those facilities).

3. Mount Dora has a Community Building where concerts, dance performances, theater, lectures and community meetings are conducted. The building which was renovated a few years back was originally constructed in 1929 (the beginning of the depression) with a seat for each resident of Mount Dora at the time.

4. Mount Dora, in the last several years, has dedicated funds for replacing our rich tree canopy. Many of the trees on the public right of way and park are water oaks which have a limited life before they become brittle and dangerous. After a large number of trees were removed 5 years ago during the renovation of the downtown, to a loud public outcry, the council set policy and budgeted for tree canopy protection. The rich tree canopy of a variety of oaks and other trees, besides palms, is a ‘want’ that makes our city different from so many others in Florida.

5. Mount Dora partners with the school board to provide SRO’s (school resource officers) in our city’s high school, middle school and elementary schools to keep our schools and students safer. This is not required, it is the responsibility of the school board to provide school “guardians." Our city government decided the SRO program was a community ‘want’ and went beyond what many other communities have provided.

6. Mount Dora provides Advanced EMS (emergency medical services) to our community. Lake County has an ambulance EMS and transport, but our city went beyond the basic ‘need' to provide an additional much-appreciated ‘want’ with the Advanced support.

There are more ‘wants’ our city provides, but I think you get the idea. Here are a few of the popular wants the City Council has planned or is discussing: additional bike/walking trail to connect to other cities, a senior activity recreation center, more pickle ball courts (even tournament style).

It’s the ‘wants’ as well as the ‘needs’ our city government provides for residents that make our city truly someplace special. The ‘wants’ help uphold our property values as well as make Mount Dora the place where our residents love living.

Over the last decade many of the ‘needs’ were unfortunately delayed due to the economy (fire and EMS station locations, public works facilities, even some building and public space maintenance). Many ‘wants’ went on the back burner. The tide started to turn in the last 2 years and the city is moving back on track. When I serve you on City Council, my pledge is to stay on top of both wants and needs – while using my skills and education in accounting to make sure we get the best value for our tax dollars. And – I pledge I will continue to keep walking and knocking and meeting our residents to stay in touch with what they ‘want.’

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