Time for freeloading Winter Haven to pony up for USFP

Now that Winter Haven, the welfare queen of cities, is on the record with its plan to use USF Polytechnic as the world’s most high tech remote park-and-ride lot for a Legoland, maybe city and business leaders over there could actually consider paying a fair share of the campus’ development instead of riding off everyone else’s dime.

If you’ll remember, Polk County and the city of Lakeland have both contributed $5 million to the campus. Let’s just say Winter Haven has not. (Yes, yes, I know your CRA gives a couple of nickels each year. That’ll buy about half the commemorative pens at the grand opening of the first building. I’m talking about real money.)

Cash MunnyLakeland’s contribution represents about 5 percent of its general fund budget. For Winter Haven, an equivalent amount would equal about $1.85 million by my calculations. Feel free to tweak, but the number needs to have six zeroes behind it. Same goes for Auburndale (more or less $1.3 million). Hard to tell with Lake Alfred (maybe about $500,000), but you get the idea. Any city or organization that thinks it has an opinion about what Lakeland should do with this campus needs to put a downpayment on that opinion, just like Lakeland did. If this is a countywide campus, fund it that way.

Note to the passive Lakeland city government and Chamber: Maybe this would make a nice negotiating/resolution stance in dealing with our overbearing neighbors. OK, Jack Myers, R-Orlando, and TPO, we’ll happily second your motion on having a stop at USFP when the cities involved in this TPO contribute the same proportional amount of money that Lakeland’s citizens have. Bob Gernert, you’ll appear before your commission to urge a $1.8 million donation, right? Consider this a question I’d like answered, Bob. You can just do it in comments. Don’t worry, I won’t hold my breath.

And, our commitment to the USFP station is contingent on the campus meeting certain development benchmarks (work them out amongst yourselves) over the next 5-10 years. If it fails to meet those benchmarks – private donations can be one of them – the site reverts to one with more immediate population access like 98 or Kathleen Road.

I continue to think that a 50-year time horizon favors the USFP site, but the obnoxiousness of a bunch of welfare queen cities in the east helping to spend Lakeland’s investment without a hint of self-awareness or self-reliance annoys me. I love me some conservatives.

I know, Winter Haven cheated on the CSX DRI development, got caught (by me), then benefitted from the state’s changing the rules. And I know, Winter Haven cheered as Orlando dumped its unwanted train traffic on Lakeland. And I know, Winter Haven hasn’t done a whiff of meaningful planning for the S.R. 60 corridor it now owns. And I know, Winter Haven sponges off Lakeland’s bus service – and has for years. I should expect nothing more from Handout City. But I’m an old-fashioned conservative that way. There’s always time to man up and take responsibility for your own ambitions.



Creative Commons License photo credit: masochismtango

30 thoughts on “Time for freeloading Winter Haven to pony up for USFP

  1. Oh no he didn’t! On top of that Lakeland could decide to cease payment on the $5 million note, de-annex the property and tell the USF lobbying group to pay for their own infrastructure. Then if Auburndale and WH want the campus they can decide how to pay for it as well as the millions of dollars of support in services and infrastructure that are going to come along with it. On top of that you have a very pretty picture of a USFP campus designed by a well known architect. It doesn’t take too much web research to find out that many of his designs don’t get built because of cost issues. Do you really think the State legislators are going to fund USFP campus buildings that cost much more than the amount of a similar sized building at USF (Tampa), UCF, FSU or UF? With the infighting that goes on at the state level for funding and if I was a betting man, I would put my money down on maybe one of those pretty buildings being built and then the other state colleges are going to start their own lobbying efforts. Just like our own home budgets, we are all spending our money more efficiently. Oh wait a minute I forgot, we are talking State politics where rational decisions don’t always apply.

  2. Oh no he didn’t! On top of that Lakeland could decide to cease payment on the $5 million note, de-annex the property and tell the USF lobbying group to pay for their own infrastructure. Then if Auburndale and WH want the campus they can decide how to pay for it as well as the millions of dollars of support in services and infrastructure that are going to come along with it. On top of that you have a very pretty picture of a USFP campus designed by a well known architect. It doesn’t take too much web research to find out that many of his designs don’t get built because of cost issues. Do you really think the State legislators are going to fund USFP campus buildings that cost much more than the amount of a similar sized building at USF (Tampa), UCF, FSU or UF? With the infighting that goes on at the state level for funding and if I was a betting man, I would put my money down on maybe one of those pretty buildings being built and then the other state colleges are going to start their own lobbying efforts. Just like our own home budgets, we are all spending our money more efficiently. Oh wait a minute I forgot, we are talking State politics where rational decisions don’t always apply.

  3. WOW! So Winter Haven must pony up for a college campus because we want to help develop a parking lot for a ridiculous high speed fail, oops rail. This parking lot will facilitate transportation for tourists to go to a theme park that the County courted, the them park is on county land. WHile Winter Haven may ge the majority of the indirect tourist dollar, it is the county that is getting the free coporate tickets, the sponsorships and the facility use. Winter Haven was not in the negotiation loop, but we do get the added traffic, crime and headaches. Money for multiuse parking, sure. Pay for a campus that LAKELAND lobbied for, come on.

  4. WOW! So Winter Haven must pony up for a college campus because we want to help develop a parking lot for a ridiculous high speed fail, oops rail. This parking lot will facilitate transportation for tourists to go to a theme park that the County courted, the them park is on county land. WHile Winter Haven may ge the majority of the indirect tourist dollar, it is the county that is getting the free coporate tickets, the sponsorships and the facility use. Winter Haven was not in the negotiation loop, but we do get the added traffic, crime and headaches. Money for multiuse parking, sure. Pay for a campus that LAKELAND lobbied for, come on.

  5. In what way are you helping to develop the parking lot? Coughing up any money? Actually this is so muddled, I have a hard time even figuring out what you’re trying to say. You seem to hate the campus, high speed, and Legolland, but like the parking lot. Am I right? That seems odd.

  6. In what way are you helping to develop the parking lot? Coughing up any money? Actually this is so muddled, I have a hard time even figuring out what you’re trying to say. You seem to hate the campus, high speed, and Legolland, but like the parking lot. Am I right? That seems odd.

  7. Nice try at turning the words around. If the parking lot is a way to alleviate the traffic in and around Winter Haven and the roads through the county, spend on. However, money from Winter Haven for a campus that another city lobbied for, come on. As far as Legoland, Winter Haven was not even in on the deal/negotiations the COUNTY spearheaded it, we get the after effects, good and bad. What are you for? Other than bashing Winter Haven?

  8. Nice try at turning the words around. If the parking lot is a way to alleviate the traffic in and around Winter Haven and the roads through the county, spend on. However, money from Winter Haven for a campus that another city lobbied for, come on. As far as Legoland, Winter Haven was not even in on the deal/negotiations the COUNTY spearheaded it, we get the after effects, good and bad. What are you for? Other than bashing Winter Haven?

  9. And here I thought I was reasonably clear in my post: I am for Winter Haven – or any other city — refraining from expressing an opinion on the development of the USFP campus, or referring to it as a counywide project, without making the same proportionate contribution that Lakeland has. Go back and read.

  10. And here I thought I was reasonably clear in my post: I am for Winter Haven – or any other city — refraining from expressing an opinion on the development of the USFP campus, or referring to it as a counywide project, without making the same proportionate contribution that Lakeland has. Go back and read.

  11. I know that style of response, Billy, I use it too often myself; you can do better. Be gracious, point out where you mention that in the article, and edit out that last sentence (strike through).

  12. I know that style of response, Billy, I use it too often myself; you can do better. Be gracious, point out where you mention that in the article, and edit out that last sentence (strike through).

  13. DR. You know I respect and love you, but the title of the post is “Time for Freeloading Winter Haven to Pony Up for USFP.” I think that’s a pretty clear indication of what I’m for. I think “Go back and read,” is fair, if curt. But e have disagreed before.

  14. DR. You know I respect and love you, but the title of the post is “Time for Freeloading Winter Haven to Pony Up for USFP.” I think that’s a pretty clear indication of what I’m for. I think “Go back and read,” is fair, if curt. But e have disagreed before.

  15. A current check of the map shows that the campus is not in the city limits of Lakeland, it is in the county proper. So why did Lakeland pony up cash? If it is a county project, i.e. not in city limits, then the county taxes already paid should support the project. Remeber, Legoland may be surrounded on 3 sides by Winter Haven, yet Winter Haven was not invited or involved in the negotiations to bring it here. You should be venting on the county, not Winter Haven.

  16. A current check of the map shows that the campus is not in the city limits of Lakeland, it is in the county proper. So why did Lakeland pony up cash? If it is a county project, i.e. not in city limits, then the county taxes already paid should support the project. Remeber, Legoland may be surrounded on 3 sides by Winter Haven, yet Winter Haven was not invited or involved in the negotiations to bring it here. You should be venting on the county, not Winter Haven.

  17. Yes, Winter Haven is taking Legolland against its will. That’ll come as news to Bob Gernert.

  18. Yes, Winter Haven is taking Legolland against its will. That’ll come as news to Bob Gernert.

  19. Aye, Billy, and we will disagree again. I just want to see you rise above the bickering because it’s more professional and people will put more trust in your writing when you reply in a more calm and reasonable fashion. I don’t say that you should be calm with actual article writing since being acerbic will probably get more readers and reader responses, but the one-on-one stuff is best conducted with manners befitting a proper social interaction.

    If you disagree, I’d love to hear why.

  20. Aye, Billy, and we will disagree again. I just want to see you rise above the bickering because it’s more professional and people will put more trust in your writing when you reply in a more calm and reasonable fashion. I don’t say that you should be calm with actual article writing since being acerbic will probably get more readers and reader responses, but the one-on-one stuff is best conducted with manners befitting a proper social interaction.

    If you disagree, I’d love to hear why.

  21. Strimarche,

    If I’m not mistaken, all of the Williams property has been annexed into Lakeland. What Mr. Townsend’s shrill rationale does not take into account is that the proposed HSR station would be on Williams property — not USF Poly’s. Lakeland did indeed provide $5 million to the new campus but they have paid no such stipend to the Williams Company – hence making the argument that Winter Haven (or any other Polk community) should have to “pony up” to have a voice in the site selection a bit lame.

    Perhaps the most important point to remember is that when all the voices were heard and all the general public’s input was received in a properly noticed and very civil meeting of the Polk Transportation Planning Organization, the vote was unanimous to select USF Poly as the first priority site and Kathleen Road as the alternate or second priority.

    It was a rare but encouraging example of our county’s many and diverse interests speaking with one voice and working together for the benefit of everyone.

    The remainder of Mr. Townsend’s tirade I will not dignify with a response. I can assure you that Winter Haven is a fine community as is Lakeland and all of our neighbors.

  22. Strimarche,

    If I’m not mistaken, all of the Williams property has been annexed into Lakeland. What Mr. Townsend’s shrill rationale does not take into account is that the proposed HSR station would be on Williams property — not USF Poly’s. Lakeland did indeed provide $5 million to the new campus but they have paid no such stipend to the Williams Company – hence making the argument that Winter Haven (or any other Polk community) should have to “pony up” to have a voice in the site selection a bit lame.

    Perhaps the most important point to remember is that when all the voices were heard and all the general public’s input was received in a properly noticed and very civil meeting of the Polk Transportation Planning Organization, the vote was unanimous to select USF Poly as the first priority site and Kathleen Road as the alternate or second priority.

    It was a rare but encouraging example of our county’s many and diverse interests speaking with one voice and working together for the benefit of everyone.

    The remainder of Mr. Townsend’s tirade I will not dignify with a response. I can assure you that Winter Haven is a fine community as is Lakeland and all of our neighbors.

  23. I am merely suggesting that Mr. Townsend’s frustration is aimed in the wrong direction. I believe that he would get the answers he is looking for from Lakeland and the county, instead of demanding other cities pay for projects he apparently doesn’t agree with.

  24. I am merely suggesting that Mr. Townsend’s frustration is aimed in the wrong direction. I believe that he would get the answers he is looking for from Lakeland and the county, instead of demanding other cities pay for projects he apparently doesn’t agree with.

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