Mayor Cindy Lerner went unopposed before the deadline to submit candidates for the Village Council November election. As a result, she is considered automatically re-elected. Mayor Lerner spoke to the Pinecrest Tribune regarding accomplishments achieved while in office and challenges ahead for her administration.
Pinecrest Tribune: What are some of your successes while in office?
Mayor Cindy Lerner: The feedback I have gotten from residents is that they are really happy with the progress we have made, how well a lot of the initiatives such as Pinecrest Gardens and the Community Center are doing, and the operating responsiveness of the council and staff to the concerns of the community. We have several advisory groups, so we want to engage the community more and people seem happy with all of these initiatives. We are also getting good feedback on the people mover and some other new programs like Earth Day, Bike Day and more family friendly events. The whole tone of the council has become much more collegial and hopefully participatory for the residents. So they feel more comfortable about being involved. Although I have to say very few people come to the council meetings anymore, compared to what I see in other municipalities, there is a level of comfort and trust. One of the first things I did was start a newsletter that I write myself, we do not have a Public Information Officer. Everywhere I go and speak, I try to encourage readership. It is important to be able to communicate to the Village what is coming up on the agenda here and get their involvement. So they feel very much up to date, the newsletter comes out every month, the first of the month (via pinecrest-fl.gov).
PT: What pressing issues will be coming up this fall?
MCL: There is a big project coming up to finally bring a new restaurant food service to Pinecrest Gardens. We engaged a consultant to help with the process and we are about to go out for an RFP. Hopefully by next year we will have restaurant and food service at Pinecrest Gardens.
Another big project is the US1 visioning steering committee. We began the work a few months ago and it is a continuing process. Some buildings are approaching the end of their useful life. If a property owner is looking to sell or redevelop, we want to make sure the vision which will come next is a community vision and not an outside owner of a shopping center that is not responsive to local needs.
Since incorporation we have not taken a comprehensive look at the commercial corridor or made changes to what had been given to us by the county zoning and land use plan. I want to be more responsive to the community vision and beautify some run down and shoddy areas. I’m excited about attracting new businesses and hopefully more mixeduse office space so more people can work closer to home.
I am also crossing my fingers and hoping we can bring a dog park to Pinecrest. It is still a priority for me and for many residents who ask “where is the dog park?”
PT: What about upcoming water issues?
MCL: It is an ongoing effort to bring people up to water. In the good old days of federal earmarks we could bring infrastructure into the local community when the funds were there. We have looked under every rock and not a penny, no federal or state dollars. We are trying to work with the county. In the meantime my recommendation to council in this new budget is to start putting away some money each year for water-allocation funding. This year will be $75,000. We need $12 million to complete the water project for 500 homes. We also just created a water line impact fee for new development, so that will go into the water fund also. So between attempts to access county money and impact fees and allocation, we are doing what we can to be able to do capital improvements going forward.
PT: Congratulations on your unopposed re-election; that must make you feel good?
MCL: It is amazing, I don’t have to campaign. I never imagined I would be so lucky. Now I can roll up my sleeves and keep working without being distracted by a campaign.