Plan to put school bus lot in Winter Garden hits bumps

ORLANDO, Fla. — The City of Winter Garden is still slogging through a plan with Orange County Public Schools to put a school bus depot on West Colonial Drive, but the plan has run into bumps.


Progress on the plan has slowed due to community opposition to the proposal, primarily concerns about traffic.

The proposal came about after OCPS announced its intention to put the depot on Orange County Technical College’s West Campus, after the school moves to a different site.

However, the announcement infuriated residents of East Winter Garden, who complained that the depot’s location on the site of a historically Black school was another example of the underinvestment in their community.

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Instead, the residents asked for something that would provide education and career opportunities.

City leaders stepped in and spent millions of dollars to buy more than 15 acres of land on West Colonial, which they intended to give to OCPS in exchange for the school.

In emails Tuesday, both city staff and OCPS officials denied claims that the proposal was completely dead and negotiations were continuing.

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“Although the most recent proposal for the bus depot to be located on city owned property on Highway 50 was discouraged by the city, discussions are still ongoing to find alternatives,” OCPS’ Andy Orrell wrote. “All options are being considered.”

A depot in the western region of the county would save OCPS an estimated $1.2 million annually and reduce the district’s environmental impact. The district needs a parcel large enough to store, fuel and maintain its buses in the area. Buses that service Winter Garden, Oakland and surrounding communities currently commute from Pine Hills

A timeline for finalizing a project has never been given, and it’s unclear what alternatives are currently being explored.

“The City remains in active negotiations with OCPS and have no further updates at this time,” Winter Garden spokeswoman Jayne Behrle wrote.

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