Darren Soto Wants $19.4 Million for 15 Community Projects in Central Florida

Last week, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., announced that he submitted 15 Community Project Funding requests to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations for funding consideration in the FY2023 cycle, totaling $19,382,360.

“These projects consider the most urgent needs of Florida’s Ninth Congressional District and aim to improve the lives of Central Floridians,” Soto’s office noted.

“I am honored to advocate for projects that aim to help our community. From protecting clean water to boosting jobs and promoting cybersecurity, from fixing the traffic to creating more pedestrian-friendly streets, and from increasing solar energy to combatting homelessness and improving education quality, these projects encompass the direct needs of Osceola, Orange, and Polk County residents and will have a lasting impact on future generations. It is an honor to advocate for our community every day in Congress,” said Soto.

Earlier this year, the House Committee on Appropriations announced that they would begin accepting programmatic, language-based, and Community Project Funding requests from members of Congress to meet the needs of communities across the United States. Soto and his staff reached out and met with numerous stakeholders in Central Florida to identify top projects. As part of the committee’s efforts to ensure transparency, Soto certified that he, his spouse, and his immediate family have no interest in the projects submitted.

The list of projects is below.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: City of Kissimmee located at 101 Church Street, Kissimmee, FL 34741

The amount of the request: $2,000,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because the funding would be used for City of Kissimmee Fire Station 15, which will house structural firefighting apparatus such as pumpers, ladder trucks and Advanced Life Support (ALS) transport ambulances alongside larger ARFF trucks. In addition, to service both the City’s increasing demands for fire and EMS services, this unique station will support the growing commercial aviation business needs and demands of users of the Kissimmee Gateway Airport (ISM).

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: Osceola County located at 1 Courthouse Square, Kissimmee, FL 34741

The amount of the request $1,978,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: This project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because provide residents who live in a community bifurcated by Michigan Avenue with safer pedestrian and bicycling opportunities and will integrate a designated Historically Disadvantage Community.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: City of St. Cloud located at 1300 9th Street, St. Cloud, FL 34769

The amount of the request $1,051,360

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because the funding would be used for a joint project between the City of St Cloud and Toho Water Authority to implement the Hopkins Park Service Area Septic-to-Sewer project. The project will consist of constructing a centralized sewer collection system that is currently served by aging, privately owned septic sewer systems. Overall, the project will improve local environmental health, reduce nutrient discharges to the environment, and serve as a first step in enhancing a predominantly minority, low-income, underserved community.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: City of Orlando located at 400 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801

The amount of the request $1,000,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because the funding would be used to develop a new major regional park in the Lake Nona Poitras neighborhood to serve the new neighborhoods developing in the southeast sector of Orlando.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: Orange County Board of County Government located at 201 S. Rosalind Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801

The amount of the request $500,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because this comprehensive project, located at 9150 Curry Ford Road, will benefit our Orange County Utilities’ customers by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving on utility costs by 70% per year. It will also play a key role in educating county residents about renewable energies, water technologies, water conservation, and electric vehicles. Orange County residents, businesses, and interested parties will be able to access the facility and take educational tours to learn about floating solar technology and water conservation.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: Osceola County located at Osceola County, 1 Courthouse Square, Kissimmee, FL 34741

The amount of the request: $2,000,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because the funding would be used for the construction of approximately 1.103 miles of 5-ft-wide concrete sidewalks at the adjacent neighborhoods of Deerwood Elementary School.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: City of Haines City located at 620 E. Main Street, Haines City, FL 33844

The amount of the request: $2,000,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because the funding would be used to replace the fire truck apparatus’ for Haines City, which is not only critical for life safety, but a newer vehicle has a smaller carbon footprint and is much more fuel efficient than the older models that the city currently has in use. The materials used for the seat fabric are non-carcinogenic and provide a safer environment for the rescue workers.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: University of Central Florida located at 12815 Scholarship Drive, Orlando, FL 32816

The amount of the request $500,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because the funds will be used for student participation in undergraduate research at an affordable, accessible high quality higher education institution.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: School District of Osceola County located at 1200 Vermont Avenue, St. Cloud, FL 34769

The amount of the request $953,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because the funding would be used for innovative youth entrepreneurship education program that will create opportunities for economic prosperity by supporting programs and initiatives that build workforce skills, promote youth entrepreneurship, and expose underserved students to career pathways.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: Valencia College located at 1768 Park Center, Orlando, FL 32835.

The amount of the request $1,000,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because it would directly support the Osceola and Lake Nona campuses by ensuring that the physical hardware has the most effective network and security monitoring software to include our network cores, cables, and other related devices. Secondly, this project will ensure that the physical hardware provides stability and continuity that does not place the institution at increased security risk.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: Hope Partnership Inc. DBA Community Hope Center Inc. located at 2420 Old Vineland Road, Kissimmee, FL 34746

The amount of the request $1,500,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because this project will provide attainable housing units for those experiencing homelessness and poverty in Osceola County Florida.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: City of Winter Haven located at 1500 Lake Howard Drive, SW, Winter Haven, FL 33880

The amount of the request $750,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because this project will construct pedestrian facilities where none currently exist along the Southwest shore of Lake Howard starting at 15th St. SW and heading West towards Ave C SW. This project will connect the neighborhoods in this area to the South Lake Howard Nature Park and to the City’s network of pedestrian trails.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: City of Lake Wales located at 201 W. Central Avenue, Lake Wales, FL 33853

The amount of the request $1,000,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because the funds will be used to rebuild 1st Street to correct the size of travel lanes, add a two-way cycle track / multiuse trail, rain gardens, street trees, lighting, hanging-flower baskets, enlarged sidewalks and new parallel parking. 1st Street is a critical connector, unifying the Northwest Neighborhood and Historic Downtown Lake Wales.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: City of Lake Alfred located at 155 East Pomelo Street, Lake Alfred, FL 33850

The amount of the request: $750,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because it would replace a fire truck. The new truck will be updated with more dependable equipment that will decrease the time spent in maintenance.

The proposed recipient and address of the recipient: Polk County Board of County Commissioners located at 330 W. Church Street, Bartow, FL 33830

The amount of the request: $2,400,000

An explanation of the request, including project site location, purpose, and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds: The project would be a valuable use of taxpayer funds because Polk County’s Behavioral Health Improvement Project will provide the structural framework and organizational support necessary to break down silos, enhance and align crisis calls, navigation, and response, build capacity, and remove barriers to increase access to services for high-need and high-risk populations. The ratio of the population to mental health providers in Polk is 1,190 to 1. Florida’s ration is 670 to 1. The national benchmark is 310 to 1.

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