Budget Blows a Hole in the Canopy

Project Still Doesn’t Fit the Budget

Budget Blows a Hole in the Canopy

News Flash

A small item on the City Manager’s Report at the January 14 Commission meeting stated, “Library Design: Project pricing came back on design development drawings and the project is over budget.”

Getting the Project Back to the Level It Should Be

Commissioner Greg Seidel asked City Manager Randy Knight to elaborate. “Staff continues to work with the design team,” said Knight, “trying to bring the project in on the budget the Commission’s adopted. . . . Once we get the project to the level it should be,” Knight said, “I’ll be bringing [the design] back to the City Commission . . . along with some add-alt opportunities” so the Commission can decide if they will try to fund those and, if so, how.

Should We Wait to Demolish the Murrah Civic Center?

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper attempted to make a motion to delay demolition of the Rachel Murrah Civic Center and removal of surrounding trees until the Commission has a clearer idea of how they are moving forward with the Canopy project. Cooper was, however, ruled out of order by Mayor Steve Leary because, he said, the item was not on the agenda as an action item and had not been publicly noticed.

‘Small Group of Citizens Increased Costs’

Leary went on to state, “The only increased cost to taxpayers so far has been the lawsuit brought against the taxpayers and the voters in the city by a small group. That has cost us in legal bills; that has cost us in delays. So, additional monies that must be spent to move this forward, as of today, have not been due to overages because we’re still working through the budget.”

Citizens Sought to Prevent Library Location in MLK Park

Leary was referring to the Save Our Library WP PAC’s 2016 petition drive to prevent the new library from being located in Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Park. The PAC gathered 2,300 voters’ signatures in what was supposed to be a Citizens’ Initiative, which has no deadline. The City Clerk declared the petitions “insufficient,” insisting they constituted “reconsideration of a referendum,” for which the deadline had passed. The court upheld the City, and the library location was never put to a vote. According to the City Manager, the lawsuit cost the City $32,878 – slightly less than it would have cost to put the matter of location to a vote of the people.

Bond Validation Suit – ‘A Wise Investment’

The City also spent $168,881 on a Bond Validation Suit to protect the City from future legal challenge regarding the bond issue. The successful Bond Validation Suit had the added advantage of allowing the bonds to be sold at a more favorable rate. According to an attorney who was close to the situation, who asked not to be identified, “Any expenditures associated with the bond validation will be recovered over the life of the bonds and represents a wise investment on the part of the City.”

So, What Do We Know Now about Projected Costs for the Canopy?

A November 2018 email from City Clerk Cindy Bonham summarizes spending and funding sources on the Library-Event Center as of September 30, 2018.

On Nov 9, 2018, at 2:13 PM, Cindy Bonham <CBonham@cityofwinterpark.org> wrote:

Current Cost Projections


In a January 16 email to the Voice, City Manager Knight sent the most current figures available at that date which, he cautioned, are nowhere near final. “At the stage this spreadsheet was developed the base project would be 12.5 percent above budget,” he wrote. The “base project” he refers to is the library-event center without a single one of the add alternates – including the porte cochere at the entrance.

“Once the design team has managed to bring the cost of the base project to within budget,” wrote Knight, “we will present the Commission a list of add alternates that we think they may wish to consider along with potential ways to fund those alternates.”

Project Status – Only the Numbers Will Change

While Knight’s numbers will definitely change, the information he provided presents a good picture of the shape of the project and where each element now stands.

Is $30 Million Enough?

From these numbers, it would appear the original $30M budget, which was supposed to include a comfortable cushion, barely covers two of the three items on the March 15, 2016 ballot, which called for a library, events center and associated parking structure.

The associated parking structure has morphed into expanded surface parking on and around MLK Park. The library has gone from 50,000 square feet to a little over 34,000 square feet. The event center will be slightly larger than the current Civic Center, estimated at 12,600 square feet.

The enhancements envisioned for the project, such as the porte cochere at the entrance, the exterior amphitheater, the interior raked auditorium and the rooftop venue stand to shoot the budget into the stratosphere, adding between $10 and $14 Million to the cost of a $30 Million project.

The Real Work Begins

To bring this Canopy dream to fruition will take some serious compromise and fundraising of mythic proportion.

Winter Season Opens at CFAM

Brilliant Color, Dark Humor and an Examination of ‘Place’

Winter Season Opens at CFAM

Rollins College Cornell Fine Arts Museum (CFAM) launches its Winter 2019 season today with a thought-provoking exhibit featuring favorites from the permanent collection and the debut of several new acquisitions. The show builds conversations around notions of ‘place’ – the city, places of devotion, landscape, the politics of place and the experience of place beyond the immediate.

What is place?
What is home?
Where do you fit – and how?
This is the essence of “The Place as Metaphor.”

Rococolab – Brilliant Color, Dark Humor

Of particular note is the gallery devoted to “The De la Torre Brothers: Rococolab.” Collaborating artist-brothers Einar and Jamex De la Torre live and work in Ensenada, Mexico and San Diego, California. Their dynamic, baroque-inspired glass work is the product of their bicultural life, which floats freely between Mexico and the U.S.

Though they are widely known in international art circles, this is the De la Torre brothers’ first solo museum exhibition in Florida. Organized by CFAM Curator Gisela Carbonell, the presentation of their work invites consideration of some of the most pressing issues in contemporary culture. Using bright light, vivid color and some very dark humor, the De la Torre brothers’ work speaks a visual language to which contemporary viewers can easily relate.

Bicultural, Bilingual English and Spanish

As you walk into the gallery, the grouping of intricate images waits, like gifts in a box, for you to unpack each one. Open them up and discover inside the beauty, joy, dark humor and scary truths they contain. The exhibit is accompanied by an illustrated booklet, available in the museum store, which is written both in English and in Spanish.

CFAM is located at 1000 Holt Avenue on the Rollins campus. It is open Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free in 2019, courtesy of PNC Financial Services Group. To check hours and special programs, visit the website at Rollins.edu/cfam

The show will be on view from January 17 to May 12, 2019.

Rollins to Get Major Facelift

Residential Capacity Will Double

Rollins to Get Major Facelift

The Rollins campus is about to get some major upgrades. The college unveiled plans to double student dormitory space and provide around 600 additional parking spaces in a new garage at the site of the current surface lot on Fairbanks and Ollie Avenue.

The architectural style of the new buildings will be consistent with the current Rollins style, and the new buildings will be constructed to minimize the appearance of mass – but they are going to be a whole lot bigger.

“We Are Not Growing the College”

In a presentation to the Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Board, Rollins President Grant Cornwell stated that Rollins has no intention of becoming any larger than it is now. “We are not growing the college,” said Cornwell, “we are simply adding residential capacity.” Cornwell added that, in his view, Rollins is ‘where it should be’ and there is no intention to increase its size.

40 Percent of Students Live Off Campus

Cornwell explained that, at present, 40 percent of the student body must reside off campus because of the shortage of student housing. McKean Hall, the current 60-year-old dormitory, has 250 to 275 beds, providing space for only the freshman and sophomore classes.

Student Housing Capacity Will Double

Rollins plans to build 250,000 square feet of new dormitories with approximately 500 beds and rooms for three Resident Advisors in the area immediately surrounding McKean Hall. Students will continue to inhabit McKean Hall until the new dorms are completed. When the new dorms are finished, McKean Hall will be demolished and a large swimming pool and patio will be built in the center courtyard, surrounded by the new dorms. This will enable the college to bring the entire junior class back onto campus.

Goal is to Increase Quality of Student Learning Experience

“Our primary goal is to increase the quality of the student learning experience by bringing them back into campus life,” said Cornwell. “What students learn outside the classroom, living with their peers, going to lectures, athletic events, musical events – and just the very dynamic of campus life – is part of the value that we bring.”

Current Student Housing Out of Date

Secondly, while Rollins is well ranked among liberal arts colleges, it is in what Cornwell described as a fierce competitive market. The current residential housing stock is old and out of date and does not live up to the expectations of students and their parents. “So,” said Cornwell, “we are both serving our mission and competing in a market.”

‘This is One Way for Rollins to be a Better Neighbor’

“The third reason,” said Cornwell, “is also important to us. We think this is a way for Rollins to be better neighbors.” Drawing a chuckle from the audience, Cornwell acknowledged that while Rollins’ 18- to 23-year-old students are all wonderful, they are not always wonderful neighbors. We think we will be a better neighbor to Winter Park if more of our students are brought back into the flow of campus life, Cornwell said.

On Campus Parking Will Be Safer

Cornwell pointed out that the new parking garage will free up spaces in the Sun Trust garage and will reduce the need for students and faculty to cross Fairbanks Avenue on foot. On campus parking should also take a good many student vehicles off the streets of Winter Park.

Construction Project on a Fast Track

Rollins hopes to complete construction and have the new dorms ready for occupancy by the beginning of the 2020 Fall term.

P&Z approved the application unanimously. The project will move forward to the Commission at the second January meeting.

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