The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, October 30, 2001, at 9:00 a.m., in the Magnolia Room, Everett A. Kelly Convocation Center, Lake Sumter Community College, Leesburg, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Catherine C. Hanson, Chairman; Robert A. Pool, Vice Chairman; Debbie Stivender; Jennifer Hill; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: Sanford A. "Sandy" Minkoff, County Attorney; Valerie Fuchs, Assistant County Attorney; Bill Neron, County Manager; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner's Office; Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Public Works Department; Noble Olasimbo, Engineer IV, Public Works Department; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
The Chairman opened the meeting.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE
Commr. Cadwell gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
CONTRACTS, LEASES AND AGREEMENTS/COUNTY EMPLOYEES
Commr. Hanson introduced Mr. William "Bill" Neron, the proposed next County Manager for Lake County, and informed the Board that they had before them a copy of his Employment Agreement, for approval.
A motion was made by Commr. Cadwell and seconded by Commr. Stivender to approve the proposed agreement.
Under discussion, Commr. Stivender pointed out some changes that she felt needed to be made in the agreement, being: On Page 3, the words "summary written" should be changed to read "written summary"; under Section 5, Item A., the word "the" should be inserted between the words "to" and "accumulation"; on Page 6, under Section C., Subsection A., the wording "/or" should be inserted between the words "and" and "directives"; and on Page 7, under Section C., Subsection D., the word "Commission's" should be changed to "County's" funds.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, with the changes being made in the agreement, as noted, which was carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote.
Mr. Neron was welcomed aboard as the County's new County Manager, at which time Commr. Hanson noted that she had traveled to Pensacola, where Mr. Neron is from, and had met with various individuals who knew and worked with him and that she did not receive any negative comments from the individuals she spoke with, only positive comments. She stated that the County was very proud to have Mr. Neron on board.
ADDENDUM NO. 1
CONTRACTS, LEASES AND AGREEMENTS/EDUCATION/MUNICIPALITIES
On a motion by Commr. Stivender, seconded by Commr. Cadwell and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved an Interlocal Agreement between Lake County, the Cities, and the Lake County School Board, regarding the Distribution of Local Government Infrastructure Surtax.
ACCOUNTS ALLOWED/PUBLIC WORKS
Commr. Hanson informed the Board that they had before them a list of projects that was developed by Senior Staff for the use of the Infrastructure Sales Tax revenues for the first five years, which she noted came from a much lengthier list that the Board had originally been given.
Commr. Stivender stated that she would like to add an item to the list, being the long awaited expansion of the Lake County Judicial Center. She stated that she feels it needs to be done within the next five years, noting that it was supposed to have been done during the last five years.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, informed the Board that, in developing this list, staff took into consideration the County's available cash flow. He stated that, in order to do the project that Commr. Stivender referred to, the County would have had to bond the tax sale proceeds, because the cash flow during the past five years would not have been enough to do it. He stated that, when staff developed the list in question, they did not anticipate bonding.
Commr. Hill stated that she had a problem with the priority of the projects on the list, at which time she was informed that the projects had not been given any particular priority.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Stivender and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the list of projects that was developed by Senior Staff for the use of the Infrastructure Sales Tax revenues for the first five years, as presented.
The Chairman welcomed the elected officials, guest speakers, citizens, and county staff that were present at the County's first Lake County Transportation Forum. She stated that the Board recognizes the importance of transportation improvements as the economic engine of the County, in the movement of goods and people in the most efficient way, and is progressively moving into the 21st Century, by addressing transportation issues. She stated that the County's boundary lines connect the majority of the counties in the Central Florida region and noted that the guest speakers would be addressing transportation programs and issues that will be beneficial to Lake County, as well as the Central Florida region. She stated that the information obtained from today's forum would be used to address the vision for the County's transportation system.
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Public Works, addressed those present and noted the purpose of the forum, at which time he introduced the first speaker.
Mr. Mike Snyder, District 5 Secretary, Florida Department of Transportation, addressed the Board stating that Lake County is one of nine counties that he is responsible for, at which time he noted that he would be discussing the Florida Department of Transportation's (FDOT) Programs and what improvements they have planned for Lake County. He stated that Lake County has grown by leaps and bounds. He stated that one of the areas that FDOT needs to expand, as soon as possible, is the segment of SR 50 from Clermont to the Pine Hills area. He stated that the County is behind, with regard to funding for the expansion of SR 50; therefore, he met with Mr. Stivender and a representative from Orange County, inquiring as to whether they could get their respective counties to advance funding for studies that were needed for said project, allowing FDOT to get started on it. He stated that Lake and Orange counties came through with said funding; therefore, FDOT is a full two to three years ahead of where it would have been, if Lake and Orange counties had not stepped up to the plate, recognizing the important needs along SR 50. He stated that Hwy. 27 is a high priority for FDOT, as well as for the County, noting that they are trying to raise money for that project as rapidly as possible. He stated that FDOT needs to continue to expand the Hwy. 441 corridor, at which time he noted that there will be some major intersection improvements where Hwys. 27 and 441 come together. He stated that FDOT is going to try to advance said project as much as they possibly can, however, noted that the needs along Hwy. 441 and the financial requirements are very high.
Mr. Snyder stated that another road project that was brought to the attention of FDOT is SR 46. He stated that they need to do something along said corridor, but, at the same time, protect the environment and the threatened and endangered species that are present in that area. He addressed the fact that the Board had indicated to the Orange County Expressway Authority that they did not see a need for the toll expressway limited access facility to come north into Lake County at this point in time, therefore, requested that the study be discontinued. He stated that the study was discontinued, as requested. He stated that FDOT has no intention of going through the Wekiva Basin, however, noted that, where they go around the Wekiva Basin, they need to spend the necessary monies to protect the water body, the water shed, and the animals that are in the water shed. He stated that he feels there needs to be a connection in the northwest quadrant, running through Lake County, from where the Western Beltway is today to where SR 46 comes in, which he feels should be a four-lane highway, whether it is somewhere around Mt. Plymouth, or just west of there. He stated that growth is coming, so there needs to be an improved transportation connection through that area; therefore, FDOT is requesting to take it over, to see if a four-lane highway concept will work in that area. He stated that they are continuing to move forward with it and, if it makes sense, FDOT intends to come back to the Board, give them the results of the study, and request that they consider putting it in the County's long range plan, and, at that point in time, they will try to raise funds to do a formal PD& E study and look at all the environmental issues that need to be addressed, as they move into the formal process.
Mr. Snyder then addressed the issue of the Apopka Bypass, noting that, even though it will not be located in Lake County, it will benefit the County. He stated that they are working with some organizations and elected officials about the fact that FDOT cannot add any additional lanes through downtown Apopka, due to the fact that it is what is called a "constrained corridor"; therefore, it is going to be a traffic problem for a very long time to come, unless something can be done about it. He stated that numerous years ago a PD&E study was completed on the Apopka Bypass, which indicated a need on the portion of the bypass from the Western Beltway, Part A, to Maitland Boulevard, which would allow people traveling down Hwy. 441 to avoid downtown Apopka, by traveling down the Western Beltway easterly to the Apopka Bypass, continuing easterly into Maitland, and from there to I-4 and wherever else they need to go. He stated that FDOT sees it as a major benefit to the Lake County community, because of the many people who commute up and down the Hwy. 441 corridor. He stated that they are trying to move forward with that program and hope to be successful.
Mr. Jim Ely, Turnpike District Secretary, Florida Department of Transportation, addressed those present stating that last year the Florida Turnpike moved its headquarters from Tallahassee to the Turkey Lake Service Plaza, on the Turnpike, which he feels is good for Lake County, because a number of their staff now reside in the County and it makes them more aware of the transportation needs in this part of the State and allows them to partner with the County, District 5, and the Expressway Authority. He presented a slide presentation and gave a brief overview of Florida's Turnpike Program, at which time he noted that the mission of the Turnpike is to assist in meeting Florida's total transportation needs, by pursuing public and private sector partnerships, to build Florida Intrastate Highway System projects and improve Turnpike access in urban areas, while improving service to patrons and protecting bondholders. He stated that 1.2 million people travel the Turnpike every day. He stated that he wanted to clear up a misconception about the Turnpike, noting that it has been referred to as the Turnpike Authority; however, it is not the Turnpike Authority, it is a part of the Florida Department of Transportation. He stated that the Turnpike is a statewide system that has been in existence since 1957, at which time he reviewed the history of the Turnpike and various projects that have been completed, as well as some future Expansion Projects, being the Seminole Expressway 2 Project, scheduled to be completed in 2003; the Western Beltway Part C Project, to be completed in 2005; and the extension of the Suncoast Parkway 2 Project, which is to be extended into Citrus County. He discussed the issue of toll roads and why they are important to Central Florida, as well as the traffic growth in Central Florida, which he noted has been extraordinary. He stated that they are seeing traffic on the Turnpike, in several sections, on a daily basis, that they had not forecasted for the next 20 years.
Mr. Ely discussed FDOT's interest in partnership opportunities with local governments, the private sector, the Orange County Convention Center, FDOT District 5, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, and the Orlando/Orange County Expressway Authority. He stated that turnpike projects have to be economically feasible, environmentally sound, and locally supported, noting that local support is very important. He then discussed the two basic types of projects, being Type A, which deals with improving the existing system, and Type B, which deals with expansion projects.
Mr. Randy Fox, Turnpike Planning Manager, addressed those present and reviewed various Turnpike projects in the Lake County area and vicinity, being the CR 470 Interchange Project; the SR 50/Clermont Interchange Modifications Project; Lake County Potential Interchanges; the Blackstill Lake Road Interchange; the Pine Needle Road Interchange; the I-75 Interchange Realignment; the Western Beltway, Part C Project; Mainline Widening Projects; the East West Expressway/Turnpike South Ramps Project; the Western Beltway Interchange Project; and the Mainline Auxiliary Lanes Project. He then discussed the Turnpike Intelligence Transportation System (ITS) Program and what it offers, such as Highway Advisory Radio sites; Traffic Management Centers (Pompano and Turkey Lake); 20 Dynamic Message Boards, located along the Turnpike Mainline; and Closed Circuit Television Cameras (Urban Areas - one camera every mile and Rural Areas - one camera every two miles).
Mr. Ely readdressed the Board stating that the Florida Turnpike is proud and pleased to call Central Florida its home.
Dr. Harold Worrall, Executive Director, Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority, addressed those present stating that the Expressway Authority is a government agency acting as a state agency, created in 1963. He gave a brief slide presentation, at which time he noted that Lake County has seen, from 1990 to 1997, a 21.5% growth in vehicle miles traveled, or 600,000 additional vehicle miles traveled. He stated that there is a lot of growth coming to Lake County, noting that the County has seen 4 additional miles in growth roadway miles. He discussed the development pattern in 1997, compared to what it is going to look like in 2025. He discussed the gas tax and the fact that it is not going to bail the County out, the way that a lot of people think it will. He stated that it has not bailed the County out in the past and is going to become more pronounced in the future, as higher fuel efficient vehicles become available. He discussed the issues of financing and toll roads, noting that, during the first 8 years, there is a tremendous loss involved with toll roads; however, if the County has a good toll road, it will start to pay for itself after eight years.
Dr. Worrall discussed future plans for the County, at which time he stated that the County has set aside approximately $170 million for its transportation program for the next 20 years, however, noted that, if the County plans to build major arterial roads, that $170 million is not enough - it is not even a beginning. He stated that the County is going to have to add some significant dollars to its transportation program. He discussed roads in the County that will be below Level of Service D by the year 2025 and the number of fatalities that have occurred within the County during the past three years. He then discussed FDOT's plans for the Western Expressway, Part C; the Northern Extension; and the SR 408 Western Extension. He stated that plans are underway for expanding several arterial roads in the region, however, noted that he felt the project warranted further discussion with the community leaders in Orange and Lake counties. He stated that there is enough traffic for everyone; therefore, they should not be competing with one another. He stated that the only thing to figure out is who is going to do which project and then have everyone agree on it.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 10:10 a.m., Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Public Works, informed those present that there would be a 10 minute recess.
TRANSPORTATION FORUM (CONT'D.)
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Public Works, addressed those present stating that, if one looks at the map of the State of Florida, one can see that Lake County is centered in the State and, unless one is traveling along either coast, one is most likely going to cross Lake County. He stated that growth in the County has been tremendous since 1960. He stated that, by 1980, the County's population was105,000 people and today the population is 210,000 and is projected to be 300,000 by the year 2020. He stated that said projection is from the University of Florida, who has been very accurate in the past. He reviewed various charts that his department had prepared showing the growth in Lake County, at which time he noted that the growth was tremendous in Lady Lake between the 1980s and the 1990s and, during the 1990s, the largest growth was in Minneola, in south Lake County. He stated that growth has a significant impact to the County's road system, which he noted is showing deterioration, because of it. He addressed the issue of the Central Florida MPO Alliance, noting that the County has been asked to join, because of significant connections between roadways, which he elaborated on.
Mr. Stivender stated that the County developed a countywide 2020 Long Range Transportation Plan, at which time he referred to a map that was drawn up (contained in a Summary Report that was provided to those present regarding said plan), indicating roads that need to be six-laned and four-laned. He stated that most of the roads are already two to four lanes and there is not enough capacity on said roadways to handle the growth that is anticipated for 2020. He noted that the blue lines on the map indicate roads that are bad and those roads indicated in red are very bad. He discussed various road projects that the County is currently working on, as well as some grant programs that the County is involved with. He stated that the County would like to see its roads at Level of Service (LOS) A or B, allowing one to get from one place to another, without the possibility of road rage being involved. He stated that there are other programs that the County is involved with, in trying to figure out alternatives for people to use to be able to get around Lake County, as well as the region, in general. He stated that the MPO is the Metropolitan Planning Organization and, once an area has 50,000 people or more, it is considered to be urbanized and can seek funds from the MPO. He stated that the County has been looking into the matter, in more detail, since 1995; however, it had to wait until after the 2000 census. He stated that the County has requested the Governor to approve a Resolution making it an MPO by April of 2002. He stated that the County has partnered with the Central Florida Alliance; however, it is to the east of the County and the County wants to be able to partner with Marion, Polk, and Sumter counties, as they merge, as well. He stated that the County feels, due to the fact that it is located in the central Florida area, it needs to keep its options open.
Ms. Lennon Moore, District 5 Planning Manager, Florida Department of Transportation, addressed those present stating that they had heard a lot of discussion about population growth, more development, and increased congestion, all of which are signs of urbanized areas and she is convinced that Lake County will be declared an urbanized area. She stated that, once that happens, the County will need to form a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). She then discussed what an MPO is; what role Federal and State governments play, in association with an MPO; how an MPO is formed; and what that organization might look like, should one be formed in Lake County. She stated that an MPO is an agency that is designated by the Governor, to participate cooperatively with the State, in carrying out a continuing and comprehensive transportation planning process, as mandated by federal legislation. She stated that an MPO's basic responsibilities include developing a long term transportation plan and prioritizing transportation improvements - not just for roadways, but for all modes of transportation. She stated that the authority for establishing an MPO lies in both state and federal law. She stated that, in federal law, it is Title 23 of the United States Code and, in State law, it is Chapter 339 of the Florida Statutes. She stated that an MPO, at a minimum, is comprised of an MPO Board, a Citizens Advisory Committee; and a Technical Advisory Committee. She stated that an MPO is not an implementing agency, but a policy making body. She stated that the Board membership is comprised of five to nineteen members, with at least one-third of that membership being made up of County Commissioners; any independent transportation authority; local cities, as approved by the central city and other groups; and an unlimited non-voting membership. She stated that one of the committees that would be formed is a Citizens Advisory Committee, whose purpose is to serve as a group, to voice the desires, thoughts, and opinions of the citizenry of the area. She stated that the members of the Citizens Advisory Committee are appointed by the Board members and they review, recommend, and comment on the various policies and programs, from the citizens perspective. She stated that they also assist the Board in developing priorities for transportation improvement.
Ms. Moore stated that another committee that must be established is a Technical Advisory Committee, to provide technical oversight and assessment, which is made up of members of local government that typically come from a planning department and/or an engineering department. She stated that they review, recommend, and comment on plans, programs, and policies, as well, but they do it from a technical standpoint. She stated that a number of other committees can be established, due to the fact that there are several other modes of transportation, one being trails, which would be for pedestrians, bicycles, equestrians, etc. She stated that many MPOs have a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and, when they are developing a long-range plan, they typically will have a Long Range Plan Subcommittee. She stated that they may have a Municipal Advisory Committee, in which all the municipalities in the County may or may not have a budding membership on the Board. She stated that sometimes a Municipal Advisory Committee will be formed, to address the Board itself, which may possibly include a Land Use Subcommittee, noting that a lot of the travel demand that one sees reflected in the area is a result of development decisions, so land use and transportation are interrelated, in terms of the effect one has upon the other. She stated that ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems), which is managing the systems electronically, enable the County to manage the systems better, rather than building more. She stated that sometimes a committee is formed to address the Transportation Improvement Plan, which is a shorter range view of the transportation projects and funding sources that will be undertaken over a five-year period of time. She stated that there could be any number of others, as well.
Ms. Moore stated that the major responsibilities for planning that are found in an MPO include a 20-Year Long Range Transportation Plan; the Annual Transportation Priority List; the Transportation Improvement Plan; and the Unified Planning Work Program. She stated that the 20 Year Long Range Transportation Plan is a 20 year vision of what is going to occur, or what is anticipated to occur in the area, which has to be cost feasible. She stated that it is a plan, in taking the longer range view, that would be updated every five years. She stated that the Annual Transportation List is a list of priorities that the MPOs submit to the FDOT District Office, which they use in developing their Five Year Transportation Work Program. She stated that their hope is to cover as many of the priorities that the County has established for the FDOT, as their production and financing capacity will allow. She stated that there is also a document known as the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), which is an MPO's version of the FDOT's Five Year Work Program, which lists all the capital improvements that will be undertaken over a five year period, when the project will be underway, how it will be funded, etc. She stated that there is also a Unified Planning Work Program, which is, basically, a business plan that outlines the planning activities that the Boards and Committees will undertake. She stated that it is updated every year and assigns not only tasks, but the dollars that are necessary to carry out those tasks. She stated that all of the responsibilities, with the exception of the Annual TIP Priority List, are required at the Federal level. She stated that the State and the District asked for the priority list, to help FDOT meet the priorities, concerns, and considerations of each area. She stated that a question that is sometimes asked is, "What is an urbanized area?" She stated that an urbanized area is designated by the U. S. Bureau of the Census, based on a population survey that is taken every 10 years, and is an area that must have a minimum population of 50,000 people, with a density of 1,000 people per square mile. She stated that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also requires that an additional boundary be outlined, which demonstrates what FDOT anticipates to be urbanized within a 20 year period, and that is the boundary within which an MPO is responsible for planning and making policy decisions.
Ms. Moore stated that the role of the Federal Highway Administration is to certify MPO activities, so that the MPO may receive federal planning dollars, which are called PL funds. She stated that a lot of said funding is used for planning, staffing, and the administrative part of the planning process. She stated that they also establish criteria for planning activities and they review and approve the long range transportation plans and all the annual documents that she alluded to earlier. She stated that an MPO is formed when the Bureau of Census declares that there is an urbanized area, at which time the Governor develops a Statewide MPO Reapportionment Plan. She stated that the Membership Apportionment Plan would be created by the representatives of Lake County, to assign the boundaries for the MPO, in conjunction with the State and the makeup of that Board. She stated that it would include some requirements of local jurisdictions and noted that there are a number of different agreements that would have to be executed, including different bylaws and procedures, joint participation agreements, and agreements among all the local entities in the County. She stated that there are a couple of scenarios that could take shape in the County, being an MPO designation for the central Lake County area (Mt. Dora, Eustis, Leesburg and Tavares); or an MPO designation for the central Lake County area, with Clermont and Minneola being included, for planning purposes. She stated that there has been some discussion about including Lake County as part of Metroplan Orlando and some discussion about Lake County remaining an independent body, due to the fact that it borders so many other counties. She stated that there are any number of possibilities, in terms of the shape that it could take. She stated that those possibilities have been expanded fairly recently, as the Federal Government is the one that defines how those boundaries will be established. She stated that she feels there will be a lot of feedback, at the Federal level, in terms of the application of the new rule that the Federal Government has.
Ms. Moore stated that, in summary, in terms of an MPO, it is the result of a Federal technical analysis done by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, which they expect to receive the results of by May of 2002. She stated that those findings will be reviewed, as was mentioned earlier, and, once the County is declared an urbanized area, it will form a Metropolitan Planning Organization, which will be done in cooperation with the Department of Transportation, FHWA, and the FTA. She stated that the Governor's Office will review the County's plans, as they relate to the Governor's Apportionment Plan, and then the County will be officially designated by the Governor as a Metropolitan Planning Organization and will be responsible for carrying out some of the activities discussed this date.
Mr. Harold W. Barley, Executive Director, METROPLAN ORLANDO, addressed the Board stating that he had been asked to speak about a new venture, one that was launched earlier this year that Lake County is a part of, called the Central Florida MPO Alliance. He discussed the need for alliances and partnerships; how the organization has evolved over the last several years; its current structure; and how it is working with the opportunities and challenges that face it. He stated that Central Florida recognizes the fact that transportation is a regional issue, noting that in many places in the State of Florida, as well as in the entire Country, the transportation system ends at the county line. He stated that, in terms of alliances and partnerships, they realized that their travel market in the Orlando area was larger than any single county, noting that they are proud of the fact that they are a three county partnership, but that did not take in the complete picture. He stated that they realized there are a lot of common issues, noting that beyond the three county area they are very similar and that, by working together and getting more voices in the chorus, they had a greater chance for success. He stated that they realized they had some immediate opportunities with Volusia County, for a number of reasons; therefore, they decided that it would be their first attempt at outreach, to see if they could start doing business in another way. He stated that it resulted in the formation of what is called the Orlando/Volusia MPO Alliance. He stated that some factors that caused that to come about was market realities, noting that the hold is so strong between Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Volusia counties. He stated that he felt the reason for that is historical, but mainly caused by Interstate 4. He stated that it was that investment in transportation that caused that market to come about. He stated that the framework was right and they also had active support and encouragement by the FDOT, District 5, noting that all four of those counties were in District 5, so it made for a logical fit. He stated that there were already excellent staff relationships, so they just needed to get it solidified from a policy making level.
Mr. Barley stated that the goals of the Orlando-Volusia MPO Alliance is to provide additional highway capacity between the Orlando urban area and Volusia County, with respect to the St. Johns River; they wanted to establish transit service, first bus and then rail, between the Orlando urban area and Volusia County; they had some interest involving three major airports, being the Daytona Beach International Airport, the Orlando Sanford Airport, and the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority - the Orlando International Airport. He stated that they saw some opportunities there for greater cooperation, as well. He stated that the Board members saw an immediate opportunity with connecting transportation and economic development goals. He stated that they needed more money to do all the things that he alluded to; therefore, they felt, by joining together in a new type of partnership, they could bring money to projects that would, otherwise, not be funded, or would not be funded for quite some time. He stated that the MPO Alliance met with a few very early successes, which he elaborated on. He discussed the evolution of the organization, noting that the Orlando-Volusia MPO Alliance was formed in June of 1997. He stated that they wanted to build on that success, so they approached Brevard County and entered into a cooperative planning agreement with them, known as the METROPLAN ORLANDO-Brevard County Cooperative Planning Agreement, in May of 1999. He stated that they already had a good staff working relationship with Lake County, but they wanted to approach the issue from a policy perspective, so they began discussions with the Lake County Board of County Commissioners and entered into a cooperative planning agreement with Lake County in May of 2000, known as the METROPLAN ORLANDO-Lake County Cooperative Planning Agreement. He stated that they began to realize that there were other issues, beyond the one on one relationships and it was beginning to get time consuming, so they felt it would be better to bring the entire six county region together and form the Central Florida MPO Alliance, which was accomplished in January of 2001. He stated that the alliance agreement stipulates that it will serve as a forum for information exchange; a forum for coordinating regional planning and policy development with the FDOT; to identify regional transportation opportunities; and to solve regional transportation issues.
Mr. Barley discussed the structure of the Central Florida MPO Alliance, noting that it consists of 12 members, three from each of the four organizations; it operates on the basis of a consensus; it has FDOT District V participation; it holds quarterly meetings; and it has rotating staff support. He stated that there are opportunities to promote regional "big picture" thinking; it further strengthens coordinated planning efforts; it is an excellent forum with the FDOT District V staff; it increases legislative clout; and there is value beyond transportation, which is relationships, not having to do with transportation, but with regard to other important regional issues. He stated that some of the challenges faced by the new group are the fact that topics need to impact all partners; issues affecting only two or three partners are handled separately; it is an additional commitment of the Board members' time; and staff support is provided with existing resources. He stated that the greatest challenge is just plain and simple good planning, which has to do with creating a vision for what it is going to take to move the region ahead and having the courage to make very tough decisions that will define the region's transportation system in the future. He read a quote from Henry Ford, as follows: "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; and working together is success." He stated that thinking regionally is important today, but he feels that it is going to be absolutely critical, as Central Florida continues on its path to prosperity in the future. He stated that, when the Orlando Metropolitan Area thinks regionally, Lake County is a very important component in that picture. He stated that they are very grateful for Lake County's active participation in the Central Florida MPO Alliance.
Mr. Byron Brooks, Executive Director, LYNX, Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, addressed those present and gave a brief slide presentation about the role that transit plays in the Central Florida region. He stated that one of their objectives is to provide transit in a manner that compliments the region's transportation system. He stated five of the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority's members are appointed by the Governor, with six of the members being elected officials - two from each of the three counties. He discussed the role that transportation plays in the Central Florida area, noting that it is about economic development and mobility. He stated that there are a number of people who rely on transit, such as students and disabled individuals. He discussed various services that LYNX provides, being a Fixed Route Bus; A+ Link Paratransit; Commuter Vans; Highway Helper; Express Service - Volusia; and Downtown LYMMO BRT. He stated that every business day more than 4,000 people use the LYMMO Bus; 69,000 people ride LYNX buses; 600 people use Laser; 2,600 people use A+ Link Paratransit; 1,100 people use the LYNX VanPlan, and 25 people are provided assistance from Highway Helpers. He reviewed the history of LYNX and discussed their growth in ridership, noting that there has been a dramatic increase in people using LYNX. He discussed some changes in their transit system, noting that it presents some challenges, one being punctuality - on-time performance. He stated that their goal is to have on-time performance be in the 90-95% range. He stated that something he understands will be coming before the Board at a future Board Meeting is the issue of the Northwest Commuter Rail Study, which involves commuter rail service from Eustis to downtown Orlando, however, noted that he would not be addressing the issue at this time.
RECESS AND REASSEMBLY
At 11:40 a.m., Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Public Works, informed those present that there would be a 10 minute recess.
TRANSPORTATION FORUM (CONT'D.)
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Public Works, introduced the Keynote Speaker, Mr. Pat Patterson, former House Representative from District 26, which he noted includes Lake, Volusia, and Flagler counties.
Mr. Patterson addressed those present stating that he represented part of Lake County when he was in the Legislature and that it was exciting to see what the County is accomplishing, especially with regard to the issue of transportation. He discussed some legislative issues that are coming up and what the County needs to be doing locally, as well as where he sees the County headed. He stated that, during the 2002 legislative session, there is scheduled to be the creation of a turnpike enterprise, which will allow the State Turnpike District to operate much like an independent authority. He stated that the County has a right-of-way bond cap increase, which will raise the cap on the FDOT's maximum debt service on right-of-way acquisition and bridge construction bonds from $139 million to $200 million. He stated that it should generate approximately $800 million for quite a few years. He stated that the cap needs to be raised, in conjunction with increasing revenue in the State Transportation Trust Fund. He stated that people are beginning to have second thoughts about high-speed rail, noting that he feels, by the State losing the Olympics and not having rail transportation, it might move that issue along a little faster. He stated that, since September 11th of this year, the State is getting more and more conscious about security around its airports and seaports, which he elaborated on, noting that it is a real economic development issue for the State of Florida. He stated that it will probably be a bureaucratic nightmare creating a Metropolitan Planning Organization for the County, because everybody will want to go in a different direction. He stated that it will be the best thing to happen to the County, but everybody will have to work together on it.
At this time, those individuals who were present broke up into various groups, to give input regarding the issue of transportation in Lake County, after which Mr. David Guinn, Transportation Engineering, Inc. (TEI), reviewed some recommendations that were given by each group, in response to the following questions:
Mr. Guinn stated that this forum would help the County understand what the wishes and desires of the community are and use them in the planning and design process.
Mr. Jim Stivender, Jr., Senior Director, Public Works, informed those present that contained in their packets of information was an Evaluation/Comment Form, for the purpose of rating the Transportation Forum, which he would like for them to fill out and return to the Public Works Department, for informational purposes.
Commr. Hanson thanked everyone who participated in the Transportation Forum, as well as the Public Works Department staff, noting that she felt the forum was very helpful to the Board and that she looked forward to more and better communication among those individuals who participated in the forum.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 1:05 p.m.
________________________________ CATHERINE C. HANSON, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK