City Staff Report on Center Street Improvement Project

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A support system for downtown Winter Park’s popular restaurant scene is receiving some much needed attention through a program aimed at improving sanitary and aesthetic conditions. Known as Park Avenue’s back of house, Center Street runs parallel to picturesque restaurant facades but houses vital waste removal systems that have been in need of maintenance. An improvement initiative began last year in response to concerns voiced by business owners and downtown guests.

The program includes a system of code compliance, waste management, and maintenance that is overseen through a partnership between the city’s Economic Development, Water & Wastewater Utilities, Safety & Code Compliance, Public Works, and Natural Resources & Sustainability departments. A team of Streetscape Attendants, fully staffed since August of 2023, monitors conditions and reports issues along Center Street during a seven-day a week, 12-hour schedule. Attendant responsibilities include:

  • Cleaning and debris removal
  • Coordinating with service vendors
  • Assistance and education
  • Facilitating code compliance

A recent report on the Center Street project outlines progress and the plans for its next phase.

Waste removal

Among the issues to adversely affect street conditions is inefficient waste removal caused by malfunctioning compactors and damaged dumpsters. The issues impact the Waste Pro schedule, leading to missed or delayed pickups.

Sustainability Manager Sara Miller said the extension of the city’s Waste Pro contract required the replacement of damaged compactors and dumpsters, and the use of slotted dumpsters for cardboard. “If you just throw in a cardboard box that’s not flattened, it often does not get recycled,” she said.

The locked-top slotted dumpsters not only serve as a reminder to flatten boxes, they keep the contents dry which aids recyclability. Informational mailers and posted signage have helped increase awareness of proper procedures.


In June of 2023, the city began working with four downtown restaurants in a composting pilot program to divert food waste from dumpsters and compacters. The pilot has since become permanent and currently includes 14 restaurants.

According to Sustainability Specialist Mia Brady, the 145,000 lbs. of diverted food waste recorded at the start of the program has increased to 169,000 lbs. at the end of the first year. A partnership with O-Town Composters has facilitated the success through education, outreach, and servicing. The air-tight composting containers have also improved sanitary conditions and aided “critter control” in the downtown area.

Condensation elimination

City codes require the enforcement of an ordinance, adopted in September of 2023, that addresses the disposal of HVAC system drainage and excess stormwater runoff. According to the ordinance, unpolluted cooling water must be discharged into a retention basin and stormwater runoff must be directed toward proper storm drainage.

Economic Development Assistant Director Kyle Dudgeon told the32789 that the condensation elimination program, which was reviewed and approved by the CRA Advisory Board, “provides a no-cost solution to affected merchants who are willing to engage and better their downtown by improving the drainage lines and catch basins in the area.” The program will mitigate runoff that often ends up on Center Street and in the city’s stormwater systems.

The city has offered support for businesses in need of the required improvements and efforts will begin on May 20 with 96% of targeted businesses already signed up for assistance.

Next steps

Moving forward, additional surveillance cameras are planned along Center Street to improve public safety and assist code compliance. The addition of dumpster screens for trash containment and aesthetic appeal is also in the works. And city staff are finalizing the details of a street repaving schedule.

The city is also considering the addition of murals to beautify the blank dumpster screens and building exteriors along Center Street. Dudgeon says local artists would be part of that effort. “While we expect some time will pass before we’re able to engage, we look forward to the opportunity to add arts and culture to our downtown.”

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