Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Goodbye, Don, my friend

The news is frozen as of June 11. That's the last day Don Prendergast and his wife, Bethany, could operate the Orange County Internet News Service, also known as

Don, a hero wounded in the Korean War, lost his battle with cancer on Monday. The community lost a steadfast champion, who kept his mind active in retirement by becoming a self-appointed member of the new internet media.

At its height, was drawing 40,000 hits a month from all over the world. Where else could one watch unfiltered and in-depth interviews of county commissioners, Sheriff Demings, Harris Rosen, and others?

During the 1990's, as development pressures ramped up in the Dr. Phillips area, residents were often caught unaware of the latest proposed land use change. As internet pioneers, Don and Bethany sought to inform Dr. Phillips residents by posting community meeting notices, which most citizens would never learn of otherwise.

Thanks to Don and Bethany's community work, Turkey Lake and Sand Lake Roads would never host the Dolly Parton Dixie stampede, now a vacant big box further down I-4 after a succeeding business, a flea market, failed. Thanks to Don and Bethany, we never had the Dr. Phillips Flea Market.

When I ran for office as a political newcomer, Don and Bethany couldn't have been kinder to me. They gave me invaluable experience in front of their video camera and I became a much better candidate as a result. Others, who managed to win office, owe a similar debt of gratitude to Don and Bethany.

Those attending last night's Dr. Phillips Advisory Committee meeting we're saddened to learn of the news and asked me about a memorial service. I'm told Don didn't want one. He didn't want people to make a fuss over him. Well, I just did anyway and I can hear Don's voice now, "Rick, no, no, no."

I'll miss Don's kindness, his political convictions, and his dedication to the community. He and Bethany were inseparable. Don is irreplaceable. My heartfelt sympathies to Bethany and to their daughter.

Rick Geller

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Skinnier Lake Underhill Road Will Save Taxpayers $200,000

The Orange County Planning and Zoning Board unanimously recommended approval of the proposed four-laning of Lake Underhill Road as consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. 

The new Lake Underhill Road will function as an arterial highway.  I expressed concern that the engineering--12 foot wide lanes (as wide as an interstate highway) without curves--will induce speeding far in excess of the intended 45 mph posted speed.  I saw striking similarities with Apopka-Vineland Road, where the road's engineering encourages speeds of up to 60 mph.  When I lived in Dr. Phillips, one of my neighbors died in crash on Apopka-Vineland Road, leaving a wife and toddler.  A year or so ago, the daughter of friends of ours learned one of her classmates died on Apopka-Vineland Road.  Our arterial roads are similar to Afghanistan or Iraq in one regard--they have an acceptable level of casualties we rarely question. 

I asked the public works representative, Brian Sanders, if we could achieve speeds closer to the intended 45 mph with 10 foot wide lanes in an area passing numerous cul-de-sac subdivisions.  The following month, Brian presented a revised plan, scaling-down to 11 foot lanes.  As a result, public works said taxpayers will save about $200,000.

I expressed my view that we should require shade trees over sidewalks.  Mr. Sanders said public works should revisit their standard landscaping in view of the County's shift towards multi-modal mobility.  In response to some expression of concern over cost, I said, "Sapplings will be fine."

Lake Underhill Road between Goldenrod and Rouse Roads.