Drumgo Brings High Energy to City Administration
Assistant City Manager Says Lake Wales "A Special Place"
Last updated 11/6/2023 at 9:42pm
In the high-energy future facing Lake Wales there's little doubt that high-energy management is required to keep up. As Lake Wales faces a wave of growth, with about 15,000 new residences planned to be built here in the next several years, Assistant City Manager Deena Drumgo may be the ideal person to help the city face the challenges ahead.
Drumgo, the former city manager of Dundee, came to Lake Wales from Winter Haven, where she oversaw that city's Community Redevelopment agency, among other tasks. She is certified as a redevelopment administrator by the Florida Redevelopment Association.
An adjunct professor at Polk State, where she has taught Public Administration and Human Resources for almost ten years, the petite Drumgo has had enough energy left over to skate with the Lakeland Swans roller derby team.
Teamwork may be a defining skill for newlywed Drumgo, who is enthusiastic about Lake Wales and the opportunity to work with City Manager James Slaton.
"He's very passionate about Lake Wales," she said of Slaton, whom she met through the Ridge League of Cities. "He was always talking about (the city) and the amazing things happening here. I want to be on that team."
Slayton told LakeWalesNewws.net that Drumgo's "administrative experience and positive attitude are strengths that are directly impacting the effectiveness of the City Manager's office." He called her "a great addition to our team."
Her first six months on the job have been significant, helping the city revitalize core neighborhoods through the Lake Wales Connected effort of street reconstruction, housing rehabilitation, and landscaping.Now she's poised to help begin implementing the Lake Wales Envisioned plan. Drumgo is enthusiastic about the eight aspirations adopted by the city commission that have guided the Lake Wales Envisioned planning process, and the anticipated "traditional neighborhood development" in the future.
TND design standards will encourage homes with garages in the rear instead of what a city planner referred to as "garage-itecture." Front porches and a mix of housing types, with nearby access to commercial services, create walkable and highly-desirable neighborhoods which achieve sustained high property values that contribute to balanced city budgets.
The Envisioned plan outlines other steps to assure that future development meets higher standards, including "complete" streets with sidewalks and trees, bike tracks, connected grids to ease traffic, and protection of environmental assets through a "Big Green Network."
The guiding principles were adopted by the city commission at their October 17 meeting.
"The city is in a good place," she said of the planning effort. "No one else is doing that."
Drumgo's responsibilities also include the reorganized Parks and Recreation divisions and the municipal airport, all subject to multiple ongoing changes.
She is also overseeing the new Family Recreation Center, housed in the former Lake Wales Family YMCA, which the city purchased early last year. The facility is currently undergoing significant upgrades and improvements, including all new equipment and remodeling of the building.
Her qualifications also leave her well prepared to help with the many changes involving the Lake Wales CRA, which is funding the $20 million Connected redesign of streetscapes both downtown and in the Northwest Neighborhood . A planned expansion of the CRA boundaries to include the the vast Peace Crossing development and the Eagle Ridge Mall also fall under her purview.
Drumgo is very upbeat about the future of Lake Wales, subscribing to the challenge presented in the Envisioned plan, "how good can it get?" The city's park-like atmosphere and proximity to Bok Tower Gardens are "reasons for people to want to stay around in a special place," she said, adding that she expects bigger things ahead "once the world sees what we're doing. The secret's not out yet."