Winter Garden, Florida supports quality of life through a commitment to green space, wellness, and waste management
Winter Garden, Florida’s mission is to be the best small city in Florida. As part of this mission, the City aims to simultaneously support wellness, natural environment, and quality of life for their residents.
One shining example of this commitment is Tucker Ranch, a Health and Wellness Park that Winter Garden’s leaders opened in 2018
“We are so excited since the Tucker Ranch is the first and one of a kind in Central Florida,” said Marc Hutchinson, Senior Business Analyst.
Tucker Ranch is only one aspect of Winter Garden’s commitment to the natural environment. Leaders’ dedication to improved waste management and green space also contribute to resident satisfaction.
The City regularly conducts The National Community Survey (The NCS) to gather feedback from residents. Data from the survey show that Winter Gardens’ residents are pleased with the City’s Natural Environment. Most aspects of the Natural Environment score above the national benchmark.
“I commend Winter Garden’s focus on the Natural Environment.The NCS shows that residents appreciate all the hard work,” said Damema Mann, Director of National Engagement for Polco.
Winter Garden’s efforts led to a 2020 Voice of the People Award for Excellence in Natural Environment. This is the only national award that honors local governments based on feedback from residents. The award is presented by Polco / National Research Center (NRC) and the International City & County Management Association (ICMA). This award acknowledges local governments that have the highest ratings on The NCS and that take the best actions on behalf of their communities.
The Tucker Ranch features a teaching farm and farm store, a greenhouse, a teaching kitchen, a Health and Wellness Center, exercise trails, pre- and post-surgery therapy, a meditation garden, an aquaponics facility and much more. The mission of the park is to holistically benefit the mind, body, and spirit.
“Residents are excited about this project as nothing like it exists in Central Florida,” said Hutchinson.
City leaders plan to expand programming and improve amenities into the future.
The City is expanding green space even beyond The Tucker Ranch. As part of the City’s Design and Construction standards, all new construction development projects are required to dedicate 25% of their site location to green and open spaces. This includes natural conservation easements. Green spaces in Winter Garden increased 7% between 2009 and 2019.
Improvements to Waste Management also contribute to resident satisfaction in Winter Garden.
“Revamping the service culture has been a key shift. We challenge staff to be more proactive in anticipating service needs based on field observations. We continuously evaluate pick-up routes. We actively push communication to keep residents informed on changes in the pick-up schedule as well as to promote recycling/sustainability behavior, ”said Hutchinson.
In addition, Hutchinson believes The Waste Management Team earned a lot of goodwill from residents during the cleanup of Hurricane Irma in Fall 2017. The City completed the clean up effort within 36 days of the disaster. They removed over 30,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris while maintaining the normal garbage pick-up schedule.
“This was unique for the region and really stood out to our residents as other jurisdictions took as long as five to six months to complete their clean-up effort,” said Hutchinson.
Last, the Waste Management Team has worked hard to reduce sending non-recyclables to the landfill. Despite a 40% population growth since 2009, Winter Garden has reduced non-recyclable waste to the landfill from 93.4% to 90.7% while increasing recycling from 6.6% to 9.3%.
Data points to residents becoming more satisfied with Winter Garden’s garbage collection. The NCS’ Garbage Collection satisfaction rating jumped 8% between 2009 and 2019. The Yard Waste satisfaction rating jumped 11% between 2009 and 2019.
“Proactive and anticipatory customer experience in the Solid Waste service delivery platform has been a key differentiator in bringing the wow to our residents,” said Hutchinson.
As a result of Winter Green’s efforts, The City continues to become even more sustainable and livable.
“Keeping staff motivated, energized and empowered with a sense of ownership will be key in sustaining the momentum of high performance. Finding creative ways to stay ahead of the service needs through relevant, timely and value-add communications will also be crucial,” said Hutchinson.