Today! City to consider ordinance making Tinker Field historic site, but not really?


As we're writing this from the Historic Tinker Building downtown – our new home for the last week! – we may come off as biased on this issue, but, just the same, the town has been arguing about the fate of the old Citrus-Bowl-adjacent baseball field since long before that super-hyped soccer match at the Citrus Bowl yesterday. And for good reason. Advocates for the preservation of Tinker Field, even though it's already been encroached upon by Citrus Bowl renovations, think demolishing the field is a slap in the face to civil rights history. Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke there. The city took a lot of heat last year on the issue, and ended up buckling (for a time). Now it appears that a "compromise" has been reached, perhaps because the county stuck its neck into the issue, and the field will likely retain its diamond and its grass, even if that means the rest will be used in service of concerts and parking and whatnot. District 6 commissioner Sam Ings isn't happy about this at all, telling the Sentinel last week that the move – even with historic designation via a placard or somesuch – would render the old field a "graveyard." Yikes. Today, the city will have first read on an ordinance that seems about as loose as most controversial city ordinances, effectively giving the city the right to do whatever it wants. Last August, when the issue came up the first time, Mayor Buddy Dyer seemed a bit frustrated about the whole thing. HE WANTS NICE THINGS. But now it looks like he'll have some version of his way, because he always does. Here's the language of the ordinance below. We'll be following the discussion in our Council Watch liveblog on this site starting at 2 p.m. 

Proposed ordinance #2015-6 would designate Tinker Field an Orlando historic landmark pursuant to section 65.720, Orlando City Code. Like the field's National Register of Historic Places designation by the U.S. Department of the Interior, this Orlando historic landmark ordinance will recognize the designated portions of the historic baseball playing field.

But unlike the National Register designation, the Orlando historic landmark designation will protect the historic integrity of the playing field by requiring a "certificate of appropriateness" for "any construction, alteration, restoration, or relocation of any permanent new structures on the Property, and for any permanent use inconsistent with the Property's historic use as a baseball field." (Prop. ord. #2015-6 at section 1.)

Applications for a certificate of appropriateness are reviewed by the City's historic preservation officer and the City's Historic Preservation Board, before being approved, approved with conditions, or denied by the Orlando City Council.

The proposed ordinance will allow for the restoration, repair, and maintenance of Tinker Field, and will also allow for the installation and maintenance of monuments, signs, plaques, underground infrastructure and utilities, and memorial objects. To support the continued vitality of Tinker Field as a public open space, the ordinance will also allow for temporary uses such as festivals, concerts, and other temporary and periodic public uses.

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