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Wednesday, March 29, 2023
SPLC files complaint against OCPS, pushes to preserve historic Eatonville property (Click Orlando)
Good action by Southern Poverty Law Center in representing Eatonville residents against developer scheme favored by Orlando County Public Schools. From Click Orlando:
SPLC files complaint against OCPS, pushes to preserve historic Eatonville property
OCPS considers selling Robert Hungerford High School property
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Public Schools has a big decision to make. The district is considering selling historic Robert Hungerford Preparatory High School property in Eatonville to developers.
The last 100 acres of land could be developed for commercial and residential uses.
Eatonville Mayor Angie Gardner said the town council voted against amendments to the town’s comprehensive plan that would facilitate the school district to sell the property to a private development firm.
“I haven’t met anyone that is in favor of that,” Gardner said. “They are definitely losing their history for generations to come.”
Although residents and community leaders are against it, the school district owns the land.
“It all comes down to the developer’s due process,” Gardner said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint in the state court against OCPS on behalf of The Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, Incorporated (PEC).
N.Y. Nathiri, the executive director, said it was a wake-up call when the school buildings were demolished.
“We understand that things were getting serious,” Nathiri said.
Eatonville is the first African American incorporated community in the United States.
Nathiri and other residents fear the rich history of their town is on the brink of being erased.
“I really question whether the Orange County Public School board officials actually knew and appreciate the history of the land,” Nathiri said.
Mayor Gardner said she grew up in Hannibal Square, the historic African American West Side of Winter Park.
It’s now been reduced to a small area, surrounded and overshadowed by new developments.
Gardner does not want to see that happen in Eatonville.
“What we don’t want is a cancellation of culture,” Gardner said. “What we want is development that complements who we are in this town and where we have come from.”
Nathiri said the community is for “good development.” They’ve discussed a 10-year initiative that would be called the Eatonville Renaissance.
She said community leaders plan to revitalize the community to bring in economic prosperity.
Nathiri said she wants the land to be put into a community trust.
She then hopes the land can be used for developments that serve residents and for cultural heritage tourism.