Clermont’s City Manager Darren Gray delivered an exciting State of the City update at the Clermont City Center on Thursday, January 24. Residents, business owners, local and state politicians and other Clermont stakeholders weren’t hampered from braving the chilly rains to learn more about the future of Clermont.

The morning began with coffee and conversation, followed by opening remarks by Clermont Mayor Gail Ash. Gray gave a presentation on the City of Clermont’s accomplishments in 2018 and a preview of what’s sure to be an amazing year ahead in Clermont, the Choice of Champions®.

Clermont City Manager Darren Gray

“It was another amazing year in Clermont, the Choice of Champions,” Gray said. “In the last year alone, we’ve brought Clermont to new heights, and together, we continue to move Clermont forward.

It’s been almost four years since our City Council adopted our award-winning Master Plan to enhance and revitalize our Downtown and Waterfront District and the city is delivering on its promises,” Gray proudly announced.

Darren Gray has been city manager since 2012. Five years ago, Clermont, Gem of the Hils, rebranded to Choice of Champions. Since then, the city adopted its award-winning master plan, became even more of a haven for athletes, was sought out for major wellness projects and much more.


A recap the City’s achievements:

The City of Clermont celebrated many “firsts” in 2018.

  • The city added two signature events: Sips & Salsa Festival and Cycle & Seek, a bicycle scavenger hunt involving many of our businesses downtown. Both events were huge successes and have become annual community staples.
  • Clermont also hosted a national cycling event called Fondo Cycling Circuit USA for the first time. Clermont was one of six American cities to host the long-distance bicycle ride. It was the perfect event to launch Victory Pointe, the city’s new stormwater facility and event venue.
  • The City of Clermont launched its first ever Youth Council. They shadowed several of the city’s directors and are working on a project to better the community, which they’ll present to the City Council next month.
  • The city introduced school resource officers into Clermont’s four elementary schools this school year. The officers received specialized crisis intervention training and in turn trained school staff in active threat response, a critical component of today’s educational institutions.
  • The City of Clermont also achieved many milestones in economic development in 2018:
    • Woodwinds opened its doors as Clermont’s first affordable housing community in 20 years.
    • Coveted Class A office space was announced, coming soon to Fifty West right beside Toyota of Clermont and Clermont Medical Village on Citrus Tower Boulevard.
    • Plans for over 200,000 square feet of warehouse and flexible space were revealed, attracting major national brand names, including Goodman Air Conditioning and Heating.
    • South Lake Hospital continues to invest in our community, expanding their Emergency Room, Operating Rooms and inpatient services and adding a surgical center.
  • Olympus, the sports and entertainment venue, has made progress. It’s projected to be a world-class destination for professional, amateur and Olympic events and training development in South Lake County’s Wellness Way area. The 250-acre master-planned site is estimated to create about 6,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in economic impact. Olympus plans to break ground this year and will include dining, shops, offices and hotels.

The City of Clermont is making great progress with its Master Plan.

  • In 2018, the City of Clermont completed the first major project of the Master Plan — Victory Pointe. This state-of-the-art stormwater filtration system has already started to act as a catalyst to encourage development and redevelopment downtown. In addition, the city has hosted several successful major events at Victory Pointe, placing people at the footsteps of downtown to patronize and enjoy the many shops and restaurants.
  • In 2018, 139 businesses opened their doors in Clermont, including 44 new businesses downtown — adding even more jobs than in the previous year.
    • To name a few, Suncreek Brewery, Savoree, Michael’s Ali, Florida Angler and Corelli’s second location have opened for business. The brewery sparked a night life that Downtown Clermont hasn’t seen before and is bustling with activity every evening.
    • Clermont soon will have two stops on the Florida Ale Trail. Downtown’s second brewery, Clermont Brewing Company, is opening in just a few months.
    • Rendering – Montrose Market

      Also announced this year, Montrose Street Market is nearing completion downtown. This trendy food hall concept will further enliven Clermont’s downtown. Twelve businesses will have booths within a common space, including sushi, meat kabobs, coffee, healthy snacks, an oxygen bar and more.

  • The next phase of our Master Plan is a series of streetscapes to enhance our public infrastructure in the Downtown Waterfront District.
    • This area includes Montrose, Minneola and Osceola streets between West and Lake avenues. The proposed improvements, estimated at $11 million, will line several streets with bricks and give a face lift to the landscaping, bathrooms, lighting, banners and more.
    • The city has plans for three phases of construction to allow for continued business and residential access to downtown. The city anticipates completing construction of Phase 1, which spans West Avenue and Osceola Street, this year.
    • Phases two and three of the city’s streetscaping will be designed and engineered in 2019 with construction to follow. The plans include Minneola Avenue, 8thStreet, Montrose Street, Clermont Legacy Loop Trail, Meet Us in the Middle Plaza and City Hall Park.
    • City Hall Park will create a focal point to anchor visitors in the heart of downtown Clermont as a destination and meeting place. We’re planning to bring more concerts, events, seating, shade areas, information kiosks and outdoor games to the plaza for a fun and relaxing experience.
  • The city is working with a contractor to install free public Wi-Fi downtown and along our South Lake Trail. Not only is this great for safety and navigation, but it also will allow us to feed live information and real-time broadcasts during our events.
  • The city is moving forward with plans to create an enhanced community park space at the 8thStreet Pier called Meet us in the Middle Plaza.  Since Clermont is exactly 101 miles from the east and west coasts of Florida, this plaza will celebrate the halfway point along the Coast-to-Coast Trail, a multimodal path that will eventually connect St. Petersburg to Titusville.
  • One of the key components of the master plan is signage and wayfinding downtown, as well as, throughout the city. The city already has completed the Eight Street Entryway downtown and will continue to install city limit signs on the eastern and western boundaries of Highway 50. This will help delineate and differentiate Clermont from surrounding counties and cities, reinforcing our distinct community. The city already has completed the project’s design and will bid it out to a general contractor soon.
  • A new and improved public boat ramp will be built this year along Lake Minneola, further enhancing Clermont’s attractiveness as a boating community.
    • This two-million-dollar project will double our launch ramps, increase parking, add mooring slips and provide new restrooms.
    • With the help of our community stakeholders, the boat ramp’s design plans are nearly complete.
    • The city anticipates starting and finishing construction by the end of this year.
  • The city is building a new senior meeting center. The existing Kehlor Building is over 60 years old and needed major repairs and renovations. In 2018, the City Council approved constructing a new replacement building. Stay tuned for a ribbon cutting announcement soon.
  • The city is moving forward on a new Public Works facility in a more centrally located area.
    • The current one is over 30 years old and is fully depreciated.
    • In 2018, the City Council approved its relocation to Hancock Road, along with the purchase of 18 acres.
    • Design and engineering should be complete this year, with a groundbreaking anticipated later this year.

Clermont continued to give back to the community in 2018.

  • The Clermont Fire Department partnered with Toys for Tots to provide holiday gifts to more than 250 families.
  • Clermont City Hall employees donated canned goods to several food pantries and sponsored local children’s holiday gifts through an Angel Tree.
  • The Clermont Police Department created the Adopt-A-Soldier challenge and inspired several local agencies to donate care packages to the military overseas.
  • When Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle, the City of Clermont reached out to help in numerous ways.
    • The city deployed five members of the Clermont Fire Department to help search and rescue, as well as to repair homes and lend a hand to bring hope to the area.
    • The Information Technology and Police departments took critical action to restore vital police software to 250 agencies across Florida that had been down due to the storm.

Clermont won state, national and international awards and honors in 2018.

Statewide awards included:

  • Recognition from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the city’s exceptional Drinking Water.
  • Three awards from the Florida Festivals and Events Association for the city’s outstanding event promotional materials.
  • The Healthy Community Champion award from Florida Health Department. Clermont was the only city in Lake County to receive this honor.
  • Trail Town Designation from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, making Clermont one of just five municipalities recognized in the state
  • The Florida Crime Prevention Unit of the Year Award from the Florida Crime Prevention Association for Clermont Police Department’s work reducing crime in the Oakhurst neighborhood.
  • The City Spirit Award from the Florida League of Cities for the Oakhurst project.

National recognition included:

  • The National Hometown Heroes Leif Erikson Award from Neighborhood Rescue of America, which went to Police Officer David Colon for spearheading the Oakhurst project.
  • Recognition for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada — for the 30th consecutive year.
  • An Excellence in Procurement Award from the National Procurement Institute
  • Clermont’s second Bicycle Friendly Designation from League of American Bicyclists.

International honors included:

  • The Clermont Fire Department became internationally accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, making Clermont one of only 258 in the world. Only 10 percent of the U.S. population is protected by an accredited agency.
  • Clermont’s Champions Pointe Disc Golf Course in Lake Hiawatha Preserve was selected as a location for the 2020 Amateur Disc Golf World Championships by the Professional Disc Golf Association.

Politicians, Stakeholders, Business Owners and Residents Attended the State of the City Address

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