You only get one chance every year to start a new decade.
As we put the wraps on the decade of the 2010’s here in Osceola County, we’re asking local officials and “movers ‘n shakers” to reflect on the last year of this one and the first one of the new decade, the “Roaring ’20s”, and how we’re going to best usher it in.
Mike Steigerwald is Kissimmee’s City Manager. He celebrated 25 years with the city in 2019, starting as a planner before promotions to Director of Development Services and Deputy City Manager before being named City Manager in August 2010. So he’s close to having “seen it all” within Kissimmee’s administration. Like his roles, the city has seen change.
Here are his thoughts on the past year, hopes for the one upcoming and how the medical facility will be part of the fabric, and a reflection of, the community when we do this again in 2029.
What were the City of Kissimmee’s biggest “wins” in 2019 from an administrative standpoint? What would they be from a resident’s standpoint?
“For residents, obviously the things they see are the lakefront completion and the road widenings, but we were able to implement the staffing of the School Resource Officer program and add 10 SROs with very little notice, and pulled in the funding for it without increasing taxes or fees.”
What is the city looking forward to accomplishing in 2020? What has the best chance of occurring? “We’re working to secure funding and start construction of a new air-traffic control tower at Kissimmee Gateway Airport. It’s been a priority for the City Commission for a few years, it’s funded a little different as a contract tower than an FAA tower would be, but it’s integral for the plans for the airport to grow. We want to land a development partner for the Beaumont property. There’s a huge chance of happening because of the interest from various developers. And we’re working to land a third-party developer for the hotel at Mosaic near the parking garage. If the hotel never comes to fruition, they can build multi-family units.”
“We have a surplus property by the old decommissioned sewer place, we’re trying to get a developer in there to design some work-force housing there. Those are big four development projects among a host of things we hope to accomplish.”
By the end of the ’20s in ten years, what do you think community will look like as far as infrastructure, and how do you think residents will interact with its government, and with each other? “You’re going to see a downtown that has housing options for multiple income levels, with activity seven days a week. There will be a substantial residential population down here, businesses will thrive and this downtown will be the heart and soul of the city. Between Beaumont, Mosaic and the Florida Rock property, there’s potential for 2,000 more units, people with disposable income. And NeoCity will be a neighbor.
“The airport has the potential for 400 new jobs over the next 10 years, chances for our kids to find good jobs here rather than seeing them leave town or rely on the tourism industry. I see the same for the Medical Arts District, which is the third-largest medical district in Central Florida, and it’s another major employment base.
“The prospect of going to a downtown eatery and sitting next to a scientist or a surgeon is kind of cool. It’s the same vibe as living over in Brevard County, where the space industry is.”