Today at the commission meeting I was joined by several supporters of Split Oak. Also in the audience and speaking up for Split Oak on Item #18 about the agreement for the $70m in escrow for the Osceola Parkway Extension were Wanda Rentas, Jeremy Fetzer, and Joann Nagy. Wanda Rentas is running for the seat on the Osceola BCC currently occupied by Viviana Janer (District 2) in November 2018.
Wanda Rentas came out publicly supporting Friends of Split Oak Forest!
Commissioner Choudhry had some pointed questions about the funding agreement and what it might obligate Osceola County to do. She is Split Oak’s best friend on the Osceola County board.
Cheryl Grieb, District 4, stated that she is uncomfortable with the road going through Split Oak.
Don Whyte (some Planning guy, at most of the meetings) from Deseret and Mike Horner, from Macy Island consulting was there, Kimley-Horn consultants were there to discuss item #17 (Jack Brack Road redesign). Glenn Pressimone (head engineer) and Mary Brooks (public involvement coordinator) were also present.
Here is the text of my public comments, a video is here:
“I’m commenting on the Agenda Item #18, Resolution No. 18-020R, to amend several agreements between Osceola County and the Florida Department of Transportation, Farmland Reserve, and the Central Florida Expressway Authority.
While the modification of the Joint Participation Agreement (JPA) today might seem innocuous, this resolution represents Osceola County forging full speed ahead for a road through Split Oak that the county will oversee the design. Chairman Hawkins said “let the determination be made of what CFX is going to do.” It appears that Osceola County will have more influence on the process than you have indicated
This agreement was on the agenda at the January 24, 2018 CFX meeting. I doubt that the county manager is letting those meetings go by without reading the agenda, since it directly impacts Osceola County. That pre-dates his comment, “It’s really in the hands of CFX”. And referring to which forum might be appropriate to discuss a road alignment – Osceola County has been planning alignments through Split Oak via its staff and OCX for years now. When I first got involved in this about a year ago I was reassured that “we haven’t picked an alignment through Split Oak” and to trust the process. I was told that right before OCX approved a PD&E right through the center of Split Oak with your staff looking on. Don’t tell me the you can’t remember much coming to you on this issue before now.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Fisher and Chairman Hawkins indicated to Commissioner Choudhry that any resolution to oppose a road through Split Oak wouldn’t “have the bearing of driving the decision of where the road goes” since CFX could still eminent domain. The people of Osceola County know that you have been planning a road through Split Oak for years. Don’t bother passing the buck to CFX again. Osceola County has incrementally planned to sell off its public land, you don’t have to wait until the FCT agreement comes to your agenda to stop going down that path; you can make a decision now or soon.
You hold the title to your part of Split Oak. This Joint Participation Agreement gives the Osceola County the responsibility of designing an alignment and acquiring the right of way. Make sure that that right of way is not public conservation land you promised your citizens that you would protect.
The rest of the state of Florida is watching how you treat your public land. This is land owned by the citizens of Osceola County and has been maintained by the taxpayers of the state of Florida. The Osceola BCC promised to protect and keep this property conservation forever. 22 years doesn’t seem like forever to me.”
The resolution passed, as I expected it to, unfortunately.