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WP Public Library ‑ The Future Is Now

Stephen G. Pategas, Guest Columnist

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

WP Public Library ‑ The Future Is Now

DSC_3704 LinkedIn 9-09-09 Stephen Headshot Adjusted 4-20-09While there is a well-established need, either for a new library building or a major renovation to the current building, the process that got us to this point was flawed and has created confusion and uncertainty. But, that is water under the bridge. It is no longer about process. It’s about what our community needs.

WP Library Ranking Plunges

Winter Park residents have only limited access to the Orange County Library system. Years ago, we decided to go it alone. We have built a proud tradition of an independent not-for-profit library that is partially supported by the city. From 2001 to 2006, our library was the highest ranked in Florida. But that was a decade ago. Now, newer Florida libraries have passed us by.

Initially I was concerned about the selection of Martin Luther King, Jr., Park for a new library.  I thought, “Too far out of downtown,” and “Park land should not be built upon.” I did some research and visited a new state-of-the-art library in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Eye-Opening Trip to Iowa

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Cedar Rapids Public Library

With a population of 126,000, Cedar Rapids’ library is larger than we need, but it boasts the amenities we need on a smaller scale. The Cedar Rapids Library opened my eyes to what a library can be and how the space can be arranged to fill many needs and inspire minds of all ages. I realized our current library could never provide the opportunity to create a facility of this caliber. Renovation dollars thrown at it would just be ‘good money after bad.’

Most Oft-Used Public Facility

The Winter Park library is our most visited public building, receiving about 600 visitors a day. Although it is close to Park Avenue, many visitors still drive there, and frequently they have trouble finding parking. If you do walk, it is nine minutes from the SunRail Station. The MLK Park location would only add an additional four minutes. Buses are available to both locations.

Needs More Than Cosmetic Surgery

Our current building is a dysfunctional embarrassment. When the third floor was tacked on 20 years ago, the design for the stairs was compromised. The elevator cannot hold a gurney so, in an emergency, a patient would have to be hand-carried down steep stairs. The building needs rewiring, and the cramped bathrooms do not meet current code. The history collection is not protected with climate control and is not fully accessible. Too many still-current books must be cycled out, youth activities are restricted and meeting space is limited.

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Modular Storage, Cedar Rapids

Meanwhile, the Cedar Rapid’s library has numerous spaces that attract widely diverse groups, and the roof top garden is a revenue- generating event venue overlooking a park. Their children’s area is almost the size of our whole first floor. Their café is a popular gathering place.

Go-To Place for Technology

A fair number of Winter Park residents do not have internet access, so our library is the go-to place for job hunting, research and staying in touch with grandchildren. A new facility might include visualization and incubator labs where students, artists and startup businesses could access evolving technology such as 3D printers. Can you think of any place other than a library that would offer free or low cost public access to this kind of technology?

Revitalize MLK Park

The new building in MLK Park will use only an additional one-quarter acre of park space. That equals a parcel 100′ X 108′, which is smaller than most home lots in Winter Park. The area not used for playing fields and playgrounds is underused. Locating a combined library-civic center there would attract many people to these under-utilized areas. Meanwhile, the lake edge setting is dramatic, engaging and ripe with outdoor educational opportunities. A library in that location would better serve the West Side community, which used to have a branch library in the old community center.

‘Downtown’ Has Grown Beyond Park Ave.

Our downtown used to be only Park Avenue, but now it has expanded to include Hannibal Square and even Winter Park Village. Downtown is expanding as our city continues to evolve. The Civic Center, which is already on park land, is undersized, outdated and ready for a major rehab. Save those renovation dollars and use them for a combined, more efficient structure.

Our choice is clear.

Renovate two structures, and still fall short of our needs? Or, build one well-designed, architecturally significant facility designed for the future, with a parking deck softened by vegetation that would screen park and library users from the new commercial development along 17/92?

We should be thinking, not of the kind of library we have used for generations, but of the kind of library today’s youth will be using 10 or 20 years from now. Vote for a library that young people can use now and into the future.

LEED-Certification-Logo

 

 

Community Leader Speaks Out

Mary Daniels on the February 10 Candidate Debate

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

Community Leader Speaks Out

Editor’s Note

On March 1, 2016, a friend used her cell phone to video this statement from Winter Park resident and community leader Mary Daniels. The woman sitting beside Ms. Daniels is Dottie Collier, also a Winter Park resident who is very involved in her community.

In a letter to the Voice, Ms. Daniels stated: “These are the “Views of Mary Daniels” on the February 10th Debate at the Winter Park Community Center, which two candidates chose not to attend and share their Views with the citizenship present at that Debate.

My Views would be the same of all candidates who did not feel that the citizens/residents who they are promising to represent did not deserve to hear the Views from all the candidates! Some citizens were not able or available to attend the other debate sites!”

Mary Daniels
Resident

Open Letter to Candidates

From West Winter Park Residents

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

Open Letter to Candidates

Editor’s Note

The following letter was sent to Commission candidates Weldon and Macejewski from three residents of West Winter Park. As of this writing, the residents have not received a response from either candidate.

February 15, 2016

Greetings Candidates Lambrine Macejewski & Pete Weldon,

We are writing this letter regarding the lack of concern and respect shown for the West side community referencing the debate held at the Winter Park Community Center. Candidates Lambrine & Weldon thought it was in THEIR best interest not to be engaged.  How shameful.  It was very disappointing to all the residents who took the time to come out and who may not have been able to attend any of the other debate locations due to work, conflicts, etc.

While reading these two candidates’ reasons for not attending, it is not and should not be acceptable to ALL Winter Park residents who showed up for A DEBATE to listen to All the candidates.

These candidates’ “No Show” displayed that the residents were not more important than what they perceive the Voice may or may not be guilty of.  All candidates were asked the same questions and given a chance to answer those questions. Certainly this would have given each resident the opportunity to hear each candidate’s response respectfully.

We read Lambrine’s open letter of why she did not attend as quoted below:

  “ I made the tough call to withdraw from the Winter Park Voice Candidate Forum after learning some of their unsavory information and activities. Please view my open letter to Anne Mooney of the WPV and also attached is her personal poll responses.  Again, I don’t mind that she has a bias. What I object to, as demonstrated in her last article defending my opponent, is their activist nature.  Winter Park Voice is acting more like a PAC not a paper.”

 “Upon hearing I pulled out of tonight’s forum, seat 4 candidate Pete Weldon, echoed our sentiment and said he would be withdrawing as well unless the Winter Park Voice to release all of their financiers in the name of transparency.”

As an alumnus of Rollins, I went to the Rollins Forum/Debate, and I’m so glad I did.  I clearly heard Lambrine say how she’s walked the communities and understands the needs of the people.  Weldon says he is taking an oath to protect ALL Winter Park residents.  Clearly these two candidates have personal interest in the West Side Accelerated Development. Clearly they have been asked to run to continue the City’s 2020 Vision to include the West Side community to be wiped out as is and become a Higher Density community.

Unfortunately, I ask the questions that have continuously been ignored:

 Will the current elected city officials continue to promote & allow gentrification of the West Side Community?

 Will the city officials continue to say there are not two Winter Parks?  Your agenda is to continue to exclude West Winter Park neighborhoods and community as being a unique part of the rich historical cultural that contributed in the city of Winter Park becoming incorporated as a town and later a city. West Winter Park should be preserved as a Single Family residential community allowing All residents affordable living.

Perhaps you can address these issues. The questions were asked but unfortunately never made it to you at the Community Center because of the No-Show. They were asked again at the Chamber, but never made it during the citizen input questions read by Patrick Chapin.

Best Regards,

Maria Bryant CEO/Director, Olivia’s Performing Arts Organization, “Where Dreams are nurtured and Visions Explored” www.mariaoliviabryant@gmail.com

Martha Bryant Hall, Property Owner

Mary R. Daniels, Resident