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With Lake Mary largely built and virtually debt-free, city commission candidates are debating how best to spend federal money, especially to improve the downtown area and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Titular curator Justin york, a lawyer, is excited about the possibility that at least half of the $ 8 million from the US bailout could be used to redevelop the city center and to meet some sewer septic tank needs in surrounding areas . He imagines that the downtown area offers stores like Park Avenue in Winter Park and favors surrounding neighborhoods, like College Park in Orlando.

“The redevelopment of the city center, we are cautiously trying to avoid having new high density apartments in this neighborhood, as we have received feedback from residents, but that is also not part of the vision that we have. for downtown, ”he said. “It’s really exciting. I really want to be there to bring this project to fruition. There will be some embellishment elements as well. I think the residents are going to really like this.

Challenger Kristina Renteria, a certified public accountant, is more cautious, fearing that there has not been enough public dissemination of ideas. She sees the need to push for more transparency in what the city does before spending this money. In 2020, she ran for Seminole County Clerk and Comptroller, losing to the incumbent Grant Maloy.

She urged the city to do more to produce and promote online meetings so that more residents can see what the city is planning and doing.

“The transparency is tied to the $ 4 million the City of Lake Mary has already received from the American Rescue Plan Act. We really did not have citizen participation or information on how this money is spent. There is another $ 4 million coming to the town of Lake Mary and they have mentioned that they want to use this funding for a sewer septic tank project. But we just don’t know, ”Renteria said.

Apart from Lake Mary, the only races contested in Seminole County on Tuesday are in Oviedo, where the mayor Megan sladek faces challengers Kevin Hipes and Abe Lopez, and member of the municipal council Judith Dolores Smith faces a challenger Nathalie Teuchert.

Somewhere else, Sarah reece won the unopposed election as Commissioner of Lake Mary and Commissioner of the City of Altamonte Springs Jim turney was re-elected without opposition.

Lake Mary is a northern suburb of Seminole County straddling Interstate 4. Like all of Seminole County, its population has grown rapidly over the past three decades, from about 5,000 in 1990 to about 17,000 in of the 2020 census. Residents are struggling with traffic. Unlike much of Seminole County, it is now largely built and has managed to develop a good mix of housing and business, with the lowest property tax rate in the county.

But there are older neighborhoods in need of redevelopment, and opportunities for new housing are limited.

York sees opportunities in the Old Town Central where federal dollars could be spent on converting septic tanks to sewers, and the money could be used to improve the centre’s infrastructure. It’s time to strategically bridge, with projects like Drake MidTown Lake Mary, and with the development of bungalows and duplexes in the downtown area, he said.

Renteria sees the adjacent SunRail station as an opportunity to make downtown a bigger destination. She said she was considering carts to move people between the station and downtown.

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