Welcome to Lake Alfred

Welcome to Lake Alfred

A Small Oasis in the Heart of Florida

BY TAMMY SEREBRIN

Nancy Z. Daley is passionate about the city of Lake Alfred, Florida, where she has lived since 1984 and is currently its mayor. Lake Alfred has a population of 5015 people and, in addition to its namesake, boasts eleven other lakes within the city limits. Mayor Daley claims her town has “the best fishing lakes around.” Established in 1915, the city is in a rural area known for cattle and citrus. Lake Alfred, according to its mayor, is in the heart of Florida’s center.

The City of Lake Alfred utilizes the Council/Manager form of local government which combines political leadership of elected officials in the form of the City Commission (the principal legislative and government body), with the managerial experience of the City Manager. At the top of the city’s organizational structure are the citizens who elect the City Commissioners. The City Commission appoints the City Manager, who serves as Chief Executive Officer, and the City Attorney, who serves as the Chief Legal Counsel. The six directors report directly to the City Manager. The City Manager issues administrative policies and procedures and the employee safety manual that provide guidance for the daily operations of the city. The Mayor and Vice Mayor are elected on an annual basis. The City Commissioners serve four-year terms with elections being held in April.

Mayor Nancy Z. Daley

Having lived in Florida since the mid-seventies, Nancy Daley skied with the Cypress Gardens Water Ski team for many years and worked her way through management positions to become Supervisor of Park Operations. It is also where she met her husband of almost 30 years. When Cypress Gardens closed the first time in 2003 and both she and her husband, a boat driver, lost their jobs, she helped organize employees in a lobbying effort to convince lawmakers to help save the tourist attraction. After working as Operations Manager on and off for 8 years for Kiteman Productions in Orlando, an entertainment company which produces shows at Sea World, she returned to work in public relations when Cypress Gardens Adventure Park opened in 2007; and went back again to the site of her beloved Cypress Gardens when it reopened as Legoland Florida. Her full time job is Supervisor of Wardrobe which oversees the attraction’s costuming, including for the water ski shows which still take place.

In 2001, she became aware of a new housing development that was not in the best interests of Lake Alfred. Not one to turn the other cheek when it comes to what she thinks is right for the people,she organized a citizens’ initiative against it. Despite her efforts, the plan for the development was about to pass when the terrorist attackon the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, happened; and the commission meeting scheduled for that day was cancelled. In the meantime, a city commissioner resigned and the subdivision plan was put on hold. Convinced by her “activist” friends that she should run for the vacant commission position, she did and won the seat. At the following meeting, the rezoning request was withdrawn by the developer. She claims the project “took over my life.” Due to her efforts, Lake Alfred purchased 112 acres of the land in question; the MacKay Gardens and Lakeside Preserve was established. Through her successful grant applications, the historic home on the property was renovated for a community center where now many weddings and other events take place. She also helped organize a team of volunteers to help build nature trails, a fishing pier, playground, restrooms, gazebo, a fitness trail and a picnic pavilion.

Gazebo

Nancy has been involved in many other positive things for Lake Alfred over the past 12 years as a public servant. The city was in bad financial shape and the citizens voted for a state audit; the findings showed much need for improvement. During her tenure, the city management and finances were reorganized and there have been near perfect audits for the past three years.

A proposed road-widening project had been proposed for Lake Alfred to help develop the city’s center area, and to make it more attractive to visitors and enhance the business district. “We like our quiet ambiance but would like the right kind of new retail development.” The FDOT had taken the project off the table and deleted it from the five-year work plan. One of Nancy’s greatest accomplishments was to get the road-widening project reinstated. She joined the Florida League of Cities Home Rule Administrative Council and became chair of the Transportation Committee. A bill was crafted to require FDOT to get legislative approval before canceling projects and the bill was introduced in the State House and Senate. It went through some revisions and was eventually vetoed by the governor; but the widening project was reinstated, accomplished, and is a reality in Lake Alfred today. Nancy believes it is important to “rattle the chain and make people be accountable.”

Nancy is visibly proud of the City of which she is mayor. She boasts abut the Veterans Memorial recently dedicated where the Iwo Jima bronze relief sculpture (previously on I-4 and in Auburndale) was installed in Gardner Park. She talks about the many other parks which enhance Lake Alfred including Echo Park, Lions Park, and MacKay Preserve, the new state-of-the-art library that was purchased from money willed to the city; and the beautiful Friends of the Library garden behind it.

Lake Alfred Mackay Gardes and Lakeside Preserve

Nancy is a true believer that each individual person’s vote counts. When she ran and won a seat on the City Commission the first time in 2001, 8 people were running for 3 seats. Nine hundred voters turned out for that election. She has run unopposed every four years. Nancy has been passionate about her “other job” as City Commissioner/Mayor ever since. Working full time at Legoland her schedule there is flexible and she works her ‘mayor job’ on her off hours on nights and weekends. The hired City Manager Ryan Leavengood runs the day-to-day operations.

The Lake Alfred website states,“Lake Alfred is the place where the quality of the community is measured by the integrity of those who dedicate themselves to the future of the city. The City of Lake Alfred is actively working to make our City a pedestrian friendly destination to ensure that Lake Alfred remains a remarkable place to live, work and play.”

With Nancy Z. Daley at its side, continuing to dedicate herself to the city; it seems like Lake Alfred, as it heads towards its 100th anniversary, will keep fulfilling its mission.

 

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