So, here we are again… at another meeting with the residents of Sugarloaf Mountain, cyclists and City Council, the Mayor and two County Commissioners, along with a few other Notables: Road Engineers, Developers, Naysayers and Optimists.
Key: “we” and “our” = cyclists
Just over two years ago we met and the discussions were quite contentious between some of the residents about how “we” (cyclists) frustrated them on the mountain we all revere.
The atmosphere last night was calm, mostly polite and respectful…almost jovial at times. We all (residents and cyclists) joined together to inquire as to what the fate of the beloved Sugarloaf Mountain Road would be as developers move in to stake their claim.
I could continue with the word play and drag you along but I’m sure you, the reader, would prefer to cut to the chase and be done with it. There is no 2-3 part blog here… I’ll do my best to be succinct and honor your time.
- The residents of Sugarloaf Mountain Road genuinely seemed to care about our safety as this famed ‘peak’ in Florida will be inundated with 2,200 homes, and about 4,000+ drivers in the coming years.
- The City Commission genuinely wanted input from all who attended, and seemed to listen attentively to the views expressed from the 150+ who gathered in the Minneola City Hall.
- Officials stated that they realized that the unpopular thing to do is to dissect Sugarloaf Mountain Road at the backside, near the water treatment plant. This is an unfavorable plan to the majority present.
- The favored option of the majority in attendance is to build a “conspan”, an overpass of SMR over the incoming 4-lane N. Hancock Road to keep SLR essentially unchanged. There was a show of hands vote on this for the City Council and County Commissioners to witness.
- A less popular option is a 120′ wide, 4-lane roundabout instead of the conspan, but will cost approximately $2M. Residents and cyclists agreed that this is not the best option. County authorities agreed to do a study to compare costs of a conspan.
- It was decided that the dissection of SMR would possibly cause problems with future EMS stations and the ability to reach residents on the Mountain (or other accidents that could occur by visitors), so that is one reason a better solution is being sought.
- The extension of N. Hancock Road to CR 455 will be in the next year or so, but it will be a 2-lane road, with easement for future expansion in the future as needed.
- This build-out is projected to be within the next 10-12 years, but as we have learned with the Hancock / Turnpike Exit, things can progress much faster than originally planned.
- We need not panic, but DO need to be involved in future meetings. I was quite relieved to hear that the City Council and County Commissioners want input. We still have time to voice concerns. But the window is closing.
- Dr. Kim Besuden, a ride leader in our Cycling Mount Dora community attended. Here are her thoughts of the meeting: “My biggest take-away was that residents are willing to make decisions mindful of safety for the cyclists. It felt like we were there to support a common goal and make sure developers cater to the voices of the Sugarloaf residents.”
- There were about 20+ cyclists that I recognized in attendance. Diego and Yvette Valez couple from Team Ravelo had this to say, ” We sure got some feedback from the residents (after the meeting) and what we can do to make it safer for cyclists. Also, for cyclists to be more mindful not to litter/using the tree as a restroom (lol) Diego has some good info.” This topic is for another day, but we really SHOULD be more respectful of their property. A tree is no restroom, nor is a fencepost! Shame on us (well, you males).
- Sean Parks is a County Commissioner and has a reputation of listening and being fair-minded. You can email him with your respectful concerns.
Wrap Up: I have some following up to do on my own with more questions, and I will gladly share what I learn with you all. Another County leader that was present is a friend and neighbor, so I plan on talking with him personally about my concerns / questions. I’ll leave him unnamed since he and his wife just puppy sat our dog while we were in Colorado. I want to keep them as friends. 🙂
Feel free to post your questions or comments. I must say that I am encouraged and feel that we have turned a corner with the residents. We need to be on good terms with them!