Feature Story & Photos by Larry H. Oskin

Groveland Mayor Evelyn Wilson is proud to be a part of the Groveland City Council and city management team. As a born networker and community cheerleader, she has pledged to help put Groveland on the map for its positive events, successful accomplishments and progressive future plans.

Mayor Wilson is originally from Leonia, New Jersey, right by the George Washington Bridge and New York City. She started her career as an administrative assistant. During her 35+ year career, she spent a number of years assisting the vice president at Mutual Services. In 1976 she moved south to Broward County and later to Groveland. She thought that moving to Groveland, near Orlando would help draw her family together more for a closer life and more visits. That didn’t happen, so instead, she decided to adopt the entire city of Groveland.

She and her husband have been married for 29 years, they celebrate life with their combined family of five children and 4 grandchildren.

She began attending Groveland City Council meetings in 2007. In 2009, she decided to run for Council Seat Representative for District 4. She was first elected to be Mayor in 2018.

Her very diverse and complete list of priorities for Groveland is long. Even though the Groveland Mayor position does not pay much and it is often seen as a ceremonial position, Wilson works very hard to fulfill her top priorities and her campaign platforms. To better fiscally serve and to help the city responsibly re-invest in the Groveland community, she actually helped lower salaries for City Council members, during the beginning of her tenure. She works very hard to help bring in new businesses, affordable housing opportunities for residents, tourism, good jobs and to support the local youth through education. She believes in smart fiscal growth. She has helped to have the area developers work together with the city to continually improve the roads and traffic challenges.

Wilson notes, “There are really three parts to Groveland. One is our Historic Downtown Groveland, with quaint shops, restaurants, a beautiful lake, park and an active bandshell. Lake David is the diamond of our city. We have a new Splash Park coming soon. We have a Lake David Community Center for meetings, weddings, social and community events. Our E.L. Puryear Building is used for our City Council meetings and city events. We are in the process of leasing and renovating another building across from the current City Hall to help support our growth. This property will also showcase a display of our future plans for Groveland with models and diagrams.

The second part of Groveland is up on Highway 27. This area is perfect for big box stores, new businesses, restaurants and new neighborhood housing developments, like the ones planned for Cypress Bluff and Villa City. We also are in the process of developing a series of new hamlets and small villages to accommodate our smart growth plans with the area developers to improve our city and county roads with safe and well-designed traffic patterns. We are still working on creating one of our greatest Groveland achievements with the new North entrance and exit for Turnpike 285 Exchange.”

Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park is the home for the new Kroger Fulfillment Center will bring many new good-paying jobs to Groveland.  Their soft opening is now scheduled for mid-March. Amazon is also building new business growth opportunities for us in the Commerce Park area. Wilson adds, “We have rectified and improved the challenges that we once had with a few hotels at the 285 interchange. Formerly challenged with drug and crime problems, these hotels will become safe condos and family-friendly havens. We are working to end the housing and homeless challenges with affordable new options.”

Wilson continues, “My top priority remains to realign State Road 50. Secondly, I want us to create safe, affordable and attainable housing with more job opportunities. Next, we will always be concerned with how to best improve our roads and traffic patterns.

Now complete, Groveland Park, a new park, located on 40-acres on Wilson Lake Parkway,

We must responsibly pay attention to our nine different parks and recreation areas while keeping and sustaining the beauty of them. This includes our dog parks. Our children remain a top priority. We have initiated a new Junior Council while working with Thrive Clermont. Our kids are important. They are our future. Finally, we are not only working to promote our future success, but we must also preserve the history of Groveland. We have a Groveland Historic Museum that celebrates our history.”

With the challenges of COVID-19, we have put a safe social distancing program for all events, community activities, and meetings. Wilson works hard to educate all Groveland residents, encouraging them to attend and participate in City Council Meetings. Every City Council Meeting offers an open forum with workshops for everyone to share ideas, add complements, note challenges and get more involved.

photo by Marty Proctor

Wilson adds, “We really do have the best police and fire departments! We will soon have a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open our new Public Safety Building on Highway 50. We will also celebrate our 99th year with a series of Founder’s Day celebration events, that will start to get us ready for our 100th anniversary in 2022. Visit our website to learn about our parks, community events, Farmer’s Markets and our free City Bandshell concerts. I really do want Groveland to help become the top place for everything possible … eating, sleeping, work and play! It gives me great pride that most everyone in Groveland is always happy and walks around with a proud smile on their face.” She supports all of the ‘Farm to Table’ efforts that are starting to come to fruition there.

Vicki and Keith Keogh

(Visit Groveland Farm to Table)

Wilson is very active with the Florida League of Cities, Keep Lake Beautiful, Lake County League of Cities, Lake-Sumter MPO, South Lake Chamber of Commerce, South Lake Economic Development Committee, South Lake Task Force MPO and her community-driven efforts to provide affordable housing. She has continued to advance her knowledge and areas of expertise, by continually studying more about professional community development, ethics, the Florida Sunshine Law and more through the Florida League of Cities. She acknowledges special help from her mentor Carol Westmoreland, noting, “As Executive Director, she has personally taught and guided me. She has also talked me off the ledge a few times during challenging times.” Wilson credits the Groveland City Manager Michael Hein as an extremely intelligent and progressive teammate and leader. Wilson plans to run again for Groveland Mayor in Fall 2022, noting, “There are too many things that I still want to accomplish for Groveland!”

City of Groveland

Groveland — A City with Natural Charm!  Wilson proudly shares that Groveland has become the second fastest-growing city in Florida. With 20,000 residents, she notes, “We are becoming a big mark on the Florida map and we really are rapidly growing. Our Groveland City Team is phenomenal With the City Manager Michael Hein and our City Council, we all work together harmoniously.” Wilson adds, “I’m reachable! Feel free to call or email me!”

 Evelyn Wilson, Groveland Mayor: For more information, visit or contact Groveland City Hall at 156 South Lake Avenue, Groveland, FL 34736, Phone: 352-429-2141, Email: Evelyn.Wilson@Groveland-fl.gov. Visit Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/CityofGroveland/https://www.facebook.com/CityofGroveland/posts/2543609369017610 and the Groveland City website at: https://www.groveland-fl.gov/ https://www.groveland-fl.gov/479/Mayor—District-1-Evelyn-Wilson


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