Fur Flies Over Library Location

Stack of Legal Documents Grows

Fur Flies Over Library Location


On September 9, the Save Our Library WP Political Action Committee filed suit requesting the court to overturn the City Commission’s approval of the City Clerk’s Certificate of Insufficiency of Petition.

PAC Sues the City to Accept Petition

Save Our Library PAC members circulated a petition proposing an ordinance to prohibit a library from being built in Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Park. They gathered the required number of signatures, had the signatures certified by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, and presented the petition to the City. The Winter Park City Clerk declined to accept the petition on grounds that it was “insufficient.”

Referendum Ordinance or Petition Ordinance?

The Clerk’s finding of “insufficiency” was based on the claim that the petition represented a referendum ordinance rather than a petition ordinance. Basically, a referendum ordinance calls for the repeal of an ordinance the City has already passed – in this case, the $30 Million bond referendum. An initiative ordinance seeks to adopt a new ordinance – in this case, that no library may be built in MLK Park.

WPPL Trustees Speak Out

An “Open Letter to the Winter Park Community“ from the Board of Trustees of the Winter Park Public Library states, in part, “Efforts to halt the construction of the library in Martin Luther King, Jr., Park ARE actions against the new library.” The Trustees’ letter continues, “They [the efforts] are also significant in that they are an attempt to overturn the results of an election by eliminating the only viable site for the library-events center project. . . .”

For the full text of the letter, click here.

The Library will launch an e-newsletter to keep citizens informed on the library progress. Readers may subscribe by going to the wppl.org website.

City Sues State & WP Taxpayers for Bond Validation

Meanwhile, the City has sued the State and all Winter Park property owners, requesting the court validate the issuance of bonds for the purpose of building a library, events center and related parking structure. Although both the ballot language and the public notices that preceded the election were silent as to the location of this structure, the City has proceeded assuming the location was generally understood, and has included language specifying the MLK location in its Amended Complaint for Validation.

Legal Question? or Political Question?

Today, Assistant State Attorney Richard Wallsh filed a Motion to Strike Portions of Amended Complaint and a Motion to Vacate Order to Show Cause, asking the Court to strike references to the MLK Park location in the City’s Amended Complaint that seeks validation of the bonds. (Case No. 2016-CA-6063-0, Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida, in and for Orange County, Florida)

In Paragraph 7 of his Motion to Strike Portions of Amended Complaint, Wallsh writes: “The selection of MLK Park as the construction site was never a portion of said ordinance or referendum. The inclusion of the site is not a proper subject for determination by this court. . . . That is a political issue for the city to resolve.”

Wallsh continues, “Plaintiff city is overreaching in its attempt to obtain judicial imprimatur for a hotly contested political decision regarding the location of the project for which bonds have been sought to finance.”

Hearing Set for October 20

Wallsh has requested the court either set a hearing for his motion prior to October 20 or move the October 20 date forward.

Clerk Declares Library Petition Insufficient

Petitioners’ Appeal Fails to Sway Commission

Clerk Declares Library Petition Insufficient

city-and-library-logo-scalesIn a Certificate of Insufficiency dated July 28, 2016, City Clerk Cynthia Bonham denied the validity of the citizens petition that seeks to prevent a new library from being built in Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Park. On August 8, the committee appealed that decision to the Commission, which upheld the finding of the City Clerk.

Petition ‘Insufficient’ for Three Reasons

Each of the three reasons for insufficiency contains the following language.
“Despite being labeled a citizen initiative, the Petition requires the reconsideration of City Ordinance No. 3020-15 enacted on November 23, 2015, and the City Commission’s affirmative votes to locate the library and events center in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park occurring at the City Commission meeting occurring on or about October 26, 2015.” [Emphasis Added]
For the full text, go to pages 69-70 of the August 8, 2016, Commission Agenda Packet. agdpkt-2016-08-08.pdf

Law + Motion = Confusion

Speaking on behalf of the petitioners, Attorney Virginia Cassady of the firm Shepard, Smith & Cassady P.A., described what she saw as the fallacy in the reasoning contained in the Certificate of Insufficiency. An ordinance carries the weight of law, while a vote by the Commission does not. “Essentially,” said Cassady, “it’s bootstrapping a vote by you [the Commission] to the ordinance that was adopted and passed in November, when in the ordinance itself there is absolutely no mention of MLK Park.”

Does Library Have to be in MLK Park?

Both the City Attorney and the City Manager have said on several occasions that the library/events center could be built somewhere other than MLK Park. Rather than trying to overturn the bond referendum, the petitioners seek an alternate location for the library.
For the full text, go to page123 of the Agenda Packet at the above link.

‘Initiative’ or ‘Referendum’?

The conflict between the petitioners’ committee and the City arises from the City’s position that the petition constitutes a Referendum, referred to in Section 5.02 of the City Charter, rather than an Initiative, as described in Section 5.01.
(See link above, page 129 of the Agenda Packet, for the Charter text.)

Basically, a Referendum requires the Commission to reconsider (i.e., overturn) an ordinance that has already been adopted.

An Initiative gives voters the right to submit their own proposed ordinance to the Commission. If the Commission fails to adopt the proposed ordinance, the ordinance must be taken to a full city election to be adopted or rejected.

City Attorney Offers No Written Guidance

Interestingly, the question of whether the petition is an initiative or a referendum is a legal determination. Yet, only the City Clerk has spoken. No legal opinion from Attorney Ardaman appears in the August 8 Agenda Packet.

City Attorney Has Some Advice for the City Clerk

In a memo dated May 8, 2016, the City Attorney writes to the City Clerk, “. . .if you conclude that the Petitioners Committee Affidavit and proposed ordinance constitute a Referendum as described under Section 5.02 of the Charter rather than an Initiative under Section 5.01 of the Charter, rather than waiting until after Mr. Poole and the Petitioner’s Committee expend substantial effort to obtain the signed petitions, the following response to Mr. Poole would be appropriate.”

While Attorney Ardaman encouraged the City Clerk to draw her own conclusions, he was kind enough to word the memo for her.

“Mr. Poole,” reads the memo. “The request for petition forms that you submitted to me as the Winter Park City Clerk on Friday, April 29, 2016, is not timely as the petition forms you have requested are based on a Petitioner’s Committee Affidavit and ordinance which appear to constitute a reconsideration or referendum to repeal Ordinance No. ____ and the City Commission’s decision to locate the library and events center in Martin Luther King Park, where the Ordinance was adopted November 23, 2015. Referendum petitions must be filed within 30 days after adoption of the ordinance to be reconsidered.”

Ardaman’s Charge to the Commission

Ardaman’s explanation of the task before the Commission was clear and simple – either uphold or overturn the City Clerk’s Certificate of Insufficiency.

As the Commissioners deliberated, there ensued considerable discussion, concluding with each Commissioner stating his or her position and the reasoning behind it.

Seidel: “This Vote Doesn’t Change the Process”

“I am assuming you are here with your attorney because you intend to take the next step,” said Commissioner Greg Seidel. “So, to me, what happens with this vote doesn’t really change what’s going to happen with the process.” Seidel voted to uphold the petitioners’ appeal.

Sprinkel Defers to City Attorney

“I’m going to support our City,” said Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel, “because I’m following the advice of our attorney.” Sprinkel voted to deny the petitioners’ appeal.

Cooper: “It is a Citizens Petition”

“I also do not believe it reverses the vote on the library,” said Commissioner Carolyn Cooper. “I believe the citizens of Winter Park voted to approve a referendum of up to $30 million to build a new library.” Cooper voted to uphold the petitioners’ appeal.

Weldon: “There Will Be No End to the Lawsuits”

“I have tried to put myself in a position of perspective as to what is the best long-term decision for the City of Winter Park,” said Commissioner Peter Weldon, who voted to deny the petitioners’ appeal.

Leary: “The Petitioners Were Informed Early On . . .”

Mayor Steve Leary stated, “The petitioners were informed early on that this petition was invalid.” Leary cast the deciding vote to deny the petitioners’ appeal.

Cooper Appeals to Commissioners to Let Citizens Choose

In her concluding remarks during the Commissioner’s Report, Commissioner Carolyn Cooper asked the others seated on the dais if it might be possible to allow the residents to vote on the location of the library – to put the issue to rest. “I honestly don’t think it would hurt anything,” said Cooper, “and I believe the people of this city honestly want a new library.”

City Sues to Validate Library/Event Center Bond Issue

City Sues to Validate Library/Event Center Bond Issue


Library Update: Petition Goes to City Hall
2,000+ Voters Say ‘Don’t Put Library in MLK Park’

Tomorrow, the Save Our Library WP PAC will turn in the signatures of 2,234 registered Winter Park voters who oppose locating the new library in Martin Luther King Jr. Park. This number exceeds by approximately 10 percent the number of signatures required to file a Citizens Petition.

PAC leader Michael Poole said he is not sure what the next steps will be, but expects the issue to end up before Orange County Circuit Judge Margaret Schreiber for a final resolution. He said he expects there may be some discussion of the petition at Monday’s meeting of the City Commission.

“We believe the bond should be validated,” said Poole, “but not with a designated site, because the site was not on the ballot.”

Poole explained the Save Our Library WP PAC will intervene in the bond validation suit using the State’s Attorney. Asked whether he thought the City would continue to deny the PAC has standing to file the petition, Poole said, “I don’t believe any State’s Attorney, when confronted with more than 2,200 valid signatures, would not take in earnest what we are trying to do. This petition says, ‘Judge, these people don’t want the library in this park.’

“It would be incredible for the judge to say that we don’t have standing in this court,” said Poole.

The City Attorney announced at the July 11 commission meeting the City had filed suit in the Orange County Circuit Court to validate the bonds that will finance the construction of the new library – event center.

Case Will Go to Trial

The City is asking the court to confirm that it can legally and safely issue up to $30 Million in municipal bonds. Attorney Richard Geller, sitting in for City Attorney Kurt Ardaman, reported the matter will be litigated, there will be a trial before Judge Margie Schreiber, evidence will be presented and the Judge will determine the bonds can be issued.

Bond Counsel to Argue Before Judge Schreiber

To represent the City, the firm of Bryant, Miller, Olive P.A., with offices in Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa and Washington, D.C has been retained. Attorney Ardaman will act as co-counsel with the bond counsel.

6- to 9-Month Process

In answer to the mayor’s question about the anticipated time frame, Geller indicated the entire process could take six to nine months. The time frame depends on the Judge’s schedule according to City Manager Randy Knight. Knight said the first step, which would be for Judge Schreiber to issue an order to show cause, might occur within 60 to 90 days.

Protection for City & Bond Holders

Winter Park Communications Director Clarissa Howard explained in an email, “The city has made the decision to go through the bond validation process to protect the interests of the citizens and taxpayers of Winter Park. This bond validation process is the most expeditious and fiscally-responsible approach that will ensure the bonds can be properly issued and the approved project can be built without any future legal obstructions.”

Bond Rating Upped

According to an attorney speaking off the record to The Voice, while there is no legal requirement that suit be filed, typically a City such as Winter Park files suit seeking validation by a court, as such a ruling has the effect of giving the bonds the highest possible rating and lowering the cost to the City of the debt service, or interest it must pay on the bonds.

Every Possible Library Site Got Close Scrutiny

Guest Columnist – Tom McMacken

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

Every Possible Library Site Got Close Scrutiny

headshot-tomOn March 15th, a record number of Winter Park voters went to the polls. As a candidate for re-election, I had spent months outlining a vision for our City. I participated in candidate forums, sent mailers, visited residents’ homes and had countless one-on-one encounters.

That Is How Democracy Works

When it became apparent on the evening of the 15th that a majority of residents did not share this vision, I phoned the new Commissioner-elect and congratulated him. Was that difficult to do? Yes. Was I disappointed in the outcome? Yes . . .but that is how democracy works.

New Library: Elected Fair & Square

The proposed new library and events center at the civic center location in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park went through the same process I did. Those in favor and those opposed had equal opportunity to present their views. After reviewing all the points for and against, a majority of residents voted to approve moving forward to secure the bonds necessary to make the vision of a library and events center of the future a reality in our community.

Petition Could Stop the Library

As with any vote, some people were disappointed with the outcome. Unfortunately this disappointment has manifested itself into a petition drive that could prevent the new library and events center from being built.

The City has declared the petition drive invalid, but in order to assure potential bondholders that the bonds and the location of the new library and events center are valid, the City of Winter Park has been forced to initiate a “bond validation” process. As with any legal action, the expenditure of time and money will result in additional cost to the tax payers.

Commissioners Did Not Mislead Voters

What is far more upsetting to me than the petition drive is the claim by the organizers that somehow the residents of Winter Park were misled by the Library Task Force and, ultimately, by the City Commission. As a Commissioner, I was involved in this process from the beginning, and I find this line of thought insulting and totally without merit.

15 Sites Examined

During my six years on the Commission I can think of no other issue that was more thoroughly vetted than the library. A Library Task Force appointed by the Commission and comprised of residents from a broad political cross-section of the City worked for 17 months to ascertain the validity of a new building and to identify the best possible location. During this time, dozens of public meetings were held seeking input on more than 15 different sites.

MLK Park Won Out

Once the civic center site in MLK, Jr. Park showed promise, a two-day Community Charrette was held at the park to again obtain input from residents. This charrette was attended by scores of residents in person and hundreds more who participated online. After weighing all the options, the Library Task Force was unanimous in their recommendation of a new library and events center to be located at the civic center site in MLK, Jr. Park.

As I watched the selection process narrow down to the park, I remembered back to a design studio in college where our professor encouraged us to think of parks not only as places of recreation but also re-creation; that parks, art, and education enjoyed a unique relationship. The ability of this new facility to relate to and enhance the experience of both library and park users is exceptional.

The fact that this can be accomplished within essentially the same impervious footprint of the existing Civic Center speaks volumes about our community’s respect for our open spaces.

But the process did not stop with the Task Force. Their recommendation was just that, a recommendation. It still had to withstand the scrutiny of the Commission and additional public input. Repeatedly during this phase, citizens approached the Commission wanting verification of where a new library would be located, and repeatedly they were assured that MLK, Jr. Park would be the home for the new building should the bond referendum pass.

The process took another step forward when a majority of the Commission voted to accept the recommendations of the Task Force and place the issue on the ballot for the residents of Winter Park to make the ultimate decision. As I look back at the process, I struggle to find opportunities that were missed. Each site had pros and cons, but as each round of eliminations took place the civic center site remained.

Gateway to Park Avenue

The civic center site abuts Morse Boulevard along the traditional gateway to Park Avenue. The thought of extending the character of the avenue as opposed to hoarding it should be applauded, not condemned. The issue was subject to the same scrutiny that any candidate endures — months of exposure in the political arena. It was a question at every Forum, and information was provided on websites, in mailers, via phone calls and at meet-and-greets.

Advocates on each side of this issue took advantage of every means possible to get their message out. If anyone feels they were not adequately informed, I believe it is not from any form of misinformation but rather from not having taken advantage of the wealth of information that was available during the campaign.

Become Involved

I end this with a call out to all the residents of Winter Park to join in embracing the new library and events center. No congratulatory phone calls are required. All that is needed is a willingness to become involved. I was privileged to attend a recent presentation by the Aspen Institute, a world-renowned organization that has chosen our community to explore and develop programing for the library of the future.

This Is Your Library, Your City

The possibilities are endless. This programing process will continue through additional community conversations, commission meetings and design reviews. All will be open to the public. Please take the time to get involved in your community, for it is that personal involvement that makes Winter Park the special place we all call home.

Editor’s Note: Tom McMacken served two terms as Winter Park City Commissioner, from 2009 to 2015.

Public Records Access Model of the Future – Your Local Library

Guest Columnist – Barbara Petersen

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

Public Records Access Model of the Future – Your Local Library

Barbara Petersen 1FAFAs Winter Park discusses the library services of the future, many opportunities come to mind.

Informed Citizens Are Key to Civic Wellbeing

The Florida First Amendment Foundation (FAF) believes the library has an important opportunity to partner with local government to enhance access to public information and to more efficiently manage public records requests.

Library Supports Citizens’ Need for Public Information

We believe there is a natural synergy between the Winter Park library and the Winter Park municipal government. Libraries are known to be apolitical and non-bureaucratic. Highly skilled in information management, the library is uniquely suited to assume more responsibility to support the public information needs of the community under Florida’s open government laws, known in the vernacular as our Sunshine Laws.

Library is Ideal Repository of Public Documents

The 21st-century library can be a digital community center which helps foster an informed and engaged community. The library of the future can add tremendous value by increasing access, adding credibility and generating valuable public information that contributes to the civic understanding and institutional memory of a community like Winter Park.

Working with organizations like the First Amendment Foundation, the Winter Park library could serve as custodian of public documents and answer public records requests. The library could catalog and hold public records in a cloud-based repository accessible by the entire community.

Investigative reporters, community-based organizations, and business entities would be encouraged to deposit information into the repository that they’ve obtained through the public records requests.

Cloud-Based Repository Most Efficient

A citizen’s request for public records through a central library repository removes layers of bureaucracy, reduces the escalating costs of accessing public records and leads to a more informed and engaged citizenry.

The Florida First Amendment Foundation would willingly join this partnership. Through Winter Park’s leadership, this could become a national model. What a wonderful value-added component to a library’s 21st- century services.

Editor’s Note: Barbara Petersen is President of the Florida First Amendment Foundation, which works to preserve and protect open government laws (www.floridafaf.org). She is past Chair of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and served as Chair of the Commission on Open Government. Petersen is based in Tallahassee.

Library Teams Up with Aspen Institute

Leaders Gather to Discuss 21st-Century Library

Library Teams Up with Aspen Institute

winterpark-library2The Winter Park Public Library partnered with the Washington, D.C.-based Aspen Institute to convene community gatherings to discuss the role of the 21st century library. A panel discussion on the evening of June 8 at the University Club was open to the general public. The following day, a group of 30 community leaders gathered at the Civic Center for a day-long roundtable discussion.

Public Forum at University Club

The library dialogue led off with a Wednesday evening event entitled, “Your Winter Park Library: A Conversation About the Future.” The panel discussion was moderated by Amy Garmer, Director, Dialogue on Public Libraries, from The Aspen Institute. The formal presentation was followed by lively input from the audience.

Featured panelists were John Bracken, V.P. for Media Innovation at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Richard Adler, Principal, People & Technology and Distinguished Fellow, Institute for the Future.

“We are excited to have John Bracken share his extensive knowledge and national perspective on what it takes to create and sustain healthy, informed and engaged communities in the digital age,” said Winter Park Library Executive Director Shawn Shaffer. “And Richard Adler’s vast insight into the successful marriage of people and technology . . . will set a strong foundation for the Winter Park Library Dialogue.”

Winter Park Will Be Model for Other Libraries

“Winter Park is the first of five communities across the country that we will be working with in the next year and a half,” explained Garmer. “The engagement of the City of Winter Park in exploring the future of the library and the opportunities to re-envision its role for the 21st century will serve as a model for other communities across the country.”

Community Leaders Meet – By Invitation Only

The public event was followed the next day by an invitation-only meeting of community leaders and representatives who gathered to discuss how the library can meet changing community needs in an environment of rapid, radical change in information technology.  For a list of attendees, click here.

The Winter Park library dialogue was based on a framework established by The Aspen Institute in 2014 that explores how libraries can respond to increased demands for high-speed information access, changes in our education and job training systems, and community services to help people compete in a changing economy.

Round Table Discussion

Participants in Thursday’s moderated roundtable addressed four strategic opportunities.
1. Aligning library services in support of community goals
2. Providing access to content in all formats
3. Cultivating leadership and citizenship in the community
4. Ensuring the long-term sustainability of the library

In the coming weeks, The Aspen Institute will report the results of the June meetings.

‘Be Grateful for the City You Live In’

Amy Garmer remarked on how impressed she was by the level of sophistication, knowledge and commitment she encountered in Winter Park. “Winter Park is unique,” she said. “You are so fortunate. Be grateful for the city you live in.”

No Library in MLK Park

Open Letter to the Citizens of Winter Park

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

No Library in MLK Park

Guest Columnist – Joe Terranova
Joe TerranovaMuch has been said recently about the construction of a new library in Winter Park. Unfortunately, some of the comments by the Mayor and others have been misleading. Here is another view.

Mayor Steve Leary has stated on several occasions that the petition being circulated is illegal. I am not aware that any court has ruled on the matter. The City Attorney may ‘feel’ that way. Our counsel says our actions are strictly within the law.

City Clerk Calls Petition Unlawful

Although our City Clerk has made statements that cast doubt on the legality and timeliness of the petition, our City Charter gives her, in her official capacity, no legal standing to make those kinds of judgements.

I am a member of the Petitioners’ Committee collecting signatures to prevent the construction of a new library in Martin Luther King, Jr., Park.

Why Are We Doing This?

The citizens recently approved a referendum authorizing the City to issue bonds in an amount up to $30 Million to build a new library, events center and associated parking structure. The Mayor has stated that “everyone knew” the library would be built in MLK Park.

I disagree.

No Site In Referendum

Neither the ballot language nor the ordinance authorizing the referendum stated where the library would be built. In fact, during a Commission meeting when the ordinance was being voted on, one commissioner wanted to specifically say in the ordinance that the library would be built in MLK Park. The Commission voted No.

Publications issued in support of the new library made it clear that all the conceptual renderings of the structures were just that – conceptual renderings. Nowhere did it say the MLK site was cast in stone.

MLK Park – Who Knew?

Our petition circulators have reported that while some people knew where the library would be built, most did not. Many of those who did not said they would not have voted in favor of the referendum had they been aware of the intended site in MLK Park.

Why Not MLK Park?

MLK Park is probably the worst option available to the City for the location of the new library. This huge structure would adversely affect the environment in the park. Traffic at the corner of 17-92 and Harper Street is already bad and will get worse, even without adding a library and events center. Removing an essential element – our library – from the core of our City will, in time, denigrate Winter Park as a special place.

Where Can the New Library Go?

The approved referendum gives the City the legal authority to build the new library anywhere in the City it wants. City leadership, however, has never bothered to get a consensus of the citizens to support the MLK Park site for a combined library, events center and associated parking structure. As a result, the Mayor has unnecessarily divided the City on this issue.
It is now time to take MLK Park off the table and get real as to a proper location for the new library in the City core. The only way we can do this is through our Citizens’ Initiative, which is authorized by the City Charter.

Sign the Petition

If you have not already signed our petition and wish to do so, contact our petition coordinator, Sally Flynn, by email at flynnlinks@aol.com. Someone will be in touch with you. If you believe as we do, we urge you to sign the petition.

Our motto is simple: Library? YES! In MLK Park? NO!


Editor’s Note:

Former Winter Park Mayor Joe Terranova is a member of the Citizens Petition Committee.

What Makes a City Great?

Charley Williams – Guest Columnist

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

What Makes a City Great?

Charley WilliamsFor the better part of two years – and, really, for many decades prior to that – Winter Park has been engaged in a discussion of how to preserve the character of our city — the character that makes us cherish the privilege of living here. We all want the same thing, but we have difficulty agreeing on how to achieve it.

What Do We Want?

Basically, we want our city to stay beautiful.

How do we do that?

The attached video articulates in a simple, vivid way, six principles of civic beauty. Regardless of which notion you espouse of beauty and how to achieve it, this entertaining, instructive piece offers a framework and a vocabulary with which to conduct the discussion.

Six Principles of Beautiful Cities

1. Variety and Order
2. Visible Life
3. Compact
4. Orientation and Mystery
5. Scale
6. Make it Local

Seventh Principle for Winter Park

7. Create Shade – shade trees, awnings, misters – anything to protect us from that famous Florida sunshine.

I hope you will take the time to enjoy this short video, originally published by The School of Life, located in London’s famed Bloomsbury district. They describe themselves this way. “The School of Life is devoted to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture. We offer a variety of programs and services concerned with how to live wisely and well.”

To learn more, visit http://www.thebookoflife.org

© The Book of Life


Charley Williams has been a Winter Park resident for 14 years. He serves as a Trustee for the Florida First Amendment Foundation and is a past state Board Member, Florida League of Women Voters.

Library Public Info Meetings

Three Meetings Next Week

Library Public Info Meetings

The Winter Park Public Library will host three Community Conversations next week. Meetings will be in the Library Community Room on the first floor.

Dates & Times:

Wednesday June 1 — 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 Noon
Thursday, June 2 — 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 4 — 12:00 Noon to 2:30 p.m.

Public Conversations About the New Facility

Residents will have the opportunity to get facts about the proposed project. Discussion will include the characteristics and best practices of 21st-century libraries. Library personnel will be on hand to gather residents’ feedback to further define our community’s priorities for materials, services and programs in the new facility.

Open-House Format

The three sessions will follow an informal, open-house-style format. Flexible times are designed to accommodate as many residents as possible.

Why Should We Build a Library-Event Center in MLK Park?

An Insider’s View

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

Why Should We Build a Library-Event Center in MLK Park?

Guest Columnist – Nancy Miles

nancy miles SMALLFriends of mine are walking door to door with a petition they would like you to sign. That petition would prevent the City from building a library in Martin Luther King, Jr., Park.

I was approached by one such friend, who was unaware that I was involved in the long and thorough process that resulted in the Library Task Force report to the City Commission with a unanimous recommendation for a new library at MLK Park.

Reaching the Conclusion – We Need a New Library

The Library Task Force represented a wide range of constituents and viewpoints. We started out with very different ideas about whether we even needed a new library. Many thought the existing library could be rebuilt.

I was in the “didn’t-need-too-much-convincing-to-rebuild” camp early, because I have spent time in our library and have seen how cramped and inflexible the building has become. Anyone who has tried to find a quiet work spot knows what I mean.

Once we saw solid reasons why a retrofit would not work, we all had different ideas about where a new library should be sited.

Long Search for a New Home

When we got to the “find-the-best-location” stage, we again had widely differing preferences. My choices, City Hall or the Post Office, turned out to not be best. The City Hall site could work if the whole block was available, but it is not. The US Postal Service’s demand for a new distribution center made that choice too expensive. The other sites we looked at were either not available or were unworkable.

I was part of the Task Force sub-group that studied the Civic Center site. When we looked at adding a library there, we saw a great opportunity.

Combined Facility = Smaller Footprint

Our original mission had not included looking at a rebuild of the Civic Center, but those of us on the Civic Center sub-group saw a building in need of rehab. When the Commissioners sent us back to look at combining the library with the Civic Center, it began to make a lot of sense.

Combining the library and event center would result in a smaller footprint than a library added to the Civic Center. The new dual-purpose building would be an efficient and beautiful use of that corner of the park. The result would be a beautiful, exciting space in our city.

After many months of study and discussion, the Task Force, as a whole, was able to take a unanimous proposal to the Commission for a combined library and events center in MLK Park.

The voters agreed and passed the referendum.

. . . and the Future of the Existing Library?

Now it is time to choose the best design for our library and event space. We also need to talk about what to do with the existing library. I hope we keep it for future civic use, but that will be a long discussion – a discussion in which I hope my politically active friends will be very involved.

Bring me that petition and I will sign it!