Win – Win for the Library

by Vicki Krueger – Guest Columnist

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

Win – Win for the Library

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.”

Albert Einstein

Vicki KruegerWinter Park values its library and agrees, in principle, with the objective of creating a relevant 21st-century facility. Similarly, the Rachel Murrah Civic Center is beloved, but as currently configured, is said to no longer serve today’s needs.

The proposed “fix’ for these venues is to abandon the existing library and demolish the Civic Center to create two new buildings and a garage on park land at a cost to the taxpayers of $43 million ($30 million bond plus approximately $13 million in interest).

Win or Lose?

When Winter Park citizens are faced with decisions, too often their choices are structured as “win or lose,” which has the effect of pitting friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor and half the city against the other half. The winners gloat over their victory, earning the enmity of the losers. This paradigm is evident in the current Library and Civic Center bond issue, where the vote passed by a razor-thin margin.

Or Win – Win?

However, there is another approach to problem solving that mitigates the enmity and disarray resulting from a win-lose paradigm. A “win–win” approach accommodates all stakeholders, creating a result where everyone benefits, but not through another’s loss. Although no one gets it all, all the participants benefit in one way or another.

At the informational Library meetings I attended, Winter Park Public Library Executive Director Shawn Shaffer and City Manager Randy Knight discussed the shortfalls of the existing facilities and proposed what was necessary to create 21st- century venues. By applying a win-win approach, those expressed needs might be accomplished as follows.

New Building on Current Library Site

First, construct a new four-story building on the site of the current Library parking lot. The first and second floors of this building would provide parking, and the third and fourth floors would satisfy the need for additional meeting space and would contain up-to-the-minute technology. The new building would be connected to the original building via one or more walkways and would contain an elevator that could accommodate a gurney in the event of a medical emergency.

Reading Areas for Children

Once the new building has been completed, begin modification on the original Library building.  Ms. Shaffer frequently spoke of requests for child-friendly areas. Turn the entire first floor into a Children’s Area. It has adequate space to accommodate children’s needs and is already computer ready. After the completion of the first floor, the second and third floors could be updated.

One benefit is that the Library could remain open during construction of the new building and renovation of the original building. An additional benefit might come in the form of an agreement between the Library and the Alfond Inn, allowing the Inn the use of the garage after Library closing hours in return for payment to the Library, which would provide income to the Library.

Civic Center: More Important Than the Library?

The morphing of the site description from “Civic Center” to “Events Center” and the repeated calls for a venue accommodating 400-500 people has some of us believing that the perceived need for a new Events Center and parking garage is greater than that of the Library.

However, in a “win-win” approach, the remedy for the stated inadequacies of the current Rachel Murrah Civic Center seems neither impossible nor even difficult. Using a portion of the bond money, the Civic Center could be upgraded by modifying the interior space to create multiple sized spaces and a beautiful new front entrance opening onto the park, and upgrading the parking.  With only the Civic Center building on the site, it might even be possible to downsize the garage, thus creating a scale more in keeping with the park.

Over the years in Winter Park, there have been many calls for more civility, for bringing the community together and for ending the hostility that has resulted from the many battles over issues.  Hasn’t Winter Park had enough of “win-“lose”?

Isn’t it time for Winter Park to “WIN-WIN”?


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

Cedar Rapids2

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.

Cedar Rapids1

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.




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

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

Voters Speak Out: We’re Better Together, Winter Park

Come March 16th, We’ll Still Be Neighbors

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

Voters Speak Out: We’re Better Together, Winter Park

C. Dawson Wrote:

I just want to live in a town where everyone wants the same thing: safety for children, protected natural beauty, beloved elderly who don’t suddenly disappear or are moved away, creative options for education, clean water, and harmony amongst residents. I don’t care what it costs, but I pray it doesn’t break me, and I’m willing to put in sweat equity to have it. I wish for manners and decorum in government and elections, respect for neighbors, mindfulness during trash days, and people who come together when one of their own is in strife or, and if, a giant team effort is needed on some level…that’s what I want. A patriotic, home-spun fourth of July.  I want to be part of that, and up until now I thought I was, right here in Winter Park. I’m so tired of everybody fighting.

I grew up in Carmel, California. Beautiful. Sublime. Creative. And believe it or not, pretty run-down from all the salt and all the storms. Incredibly interesting. Ramshackled. Now, spec homes, greed without care, leaf blowers everywhere on every day of the week. Tasteless art galleries and tee shirt shops. Good luck finding that eccentric sculptor in the bark-sided studio. Carmel is ruined.

Then I lived in Aspen for eight years. Rustic, interesting, athletic, reverent toward nature, muddy in springtime, everyone just getting by just to be there, just to get out and get going in it, in any way possible. Now Aspen is sanitized, sleek, chic, Banana Republic and so many empty homes and movie-star clubs named after wild animals that have disappeared from Pitkin County all together. There is literally no local life…few resident children…no Halloween, and no communal core. But you can pay ten dollars for coffee with your paper in the morning, which is novel.

And now Winter Park. It used to be the train going through the park and the flattening of pennies, Dinky Dock and learning to swim, running down to Park Avenue for a coconut ice cream at Thomas Sweet. Everyone valued the history of the groves, the sight of the ibis and sand hill crane pairs, the sound of the church bells drifting over the houses on Sundays. Grilling out on a hot summer evening, an otter riffling the tall grass, and sprinklers punctuating nightfall. Finding the sandy white bottom of the lake with your friends, and watching the pink light of evening deepen across the lake and over Rollins chapel.

What has happened to us? We are fighting and clawing, trying to hold on, yet Hell-bent on change. Let us not ruin this lovely little town in the process, people. This village we, and our children, love so much. Let’s remember the one thing that is always, no matter what, true: we’re better together. We really are. You will blink, and we will have lost our little town forever. The dream? Gone. Can we let that happen? But it’s happening right now.

Trust me, I know this to be true. I have lived it twice already. Carmel. Aspen. Where next, Winter Park? While the outside pushes us in, while we begin the process of being overrun because of our beauty, and whilst we learn to navigate and share this unique gem of which we all are so blessed to be a part, please remember her dignity. You will blink, and our Winter Park will be gone. We must be careful. We must protect her. And above all, that one incredible concept that seems to be slipping away: COMMUNITY. We are better together, Winter Park. We are truly, despite our differences, so much better together.

C Dawson

March 2016


John Skolfield wrote:

I was born in Winter Park in 1960. I have an office downtown and a home a few blocks away. I, too, love our city.

While the following statement likely precludes me from a career as a political consultant, I believe all four of our city commission candidates love our city as well.  To further damage my prospects as an aspirant for such a career, I believe they are all honorable people.

Our political penchant for casting aspersions, a sport of sorts, is no more acceptable due to its ubiquity.   First and foremost, we should be grateful that all four candidates are willing to run and give of their time.  These individuals bring common gifts to the table — gifts of time, wisdom, and experience.

Other gifts, which one should weigh in reaching their decisions, are decorum, the ability to listen and understand, confident leadership, the ability to collaborate, general communications skills and a willingness to devote time to the subject at hand.

After evaluating these skills, it’s my opinion that the course a particular candidate is likely to chart should be evaluated.  Winter Park has choices, choices of which two of these four candidates will be casting votes on our behalf.

Kind honorable people can have heartfelt views on many critical issues facing the city, and they can be diametrically opposing views.  Trees, undergrounding electric, new library, development, density are a few of the very important issues.

This Winter Park native hopes the voters will accept the honorability litmus test, evaluate the performance skills and then weigh in on the likely direction your candidate will steer the ship.

Should our electorate apply this process, Winter Park will be well served.

John Skolfield

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”

Martha Bryant Hall, Property Owner

Mary R. Daniels, Resident

What Publicists for the Library Bond Issue Don’t Publicize

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

What Publicists for the Library Bond Issue Don’t Publicize

When the razzle-dazzle of the notion of building another library on the west side of Winter Park quiets down, the City will face a stark reality:  a large, very expensive building that few if any patrons will walk to — a Building, with a Parking Garage, in a Park.


How does it serve residents, most of whom live east of the library, to move it to the west side of the city?  Many residents will not want to use a parking garage in an area so close to 17-92. The proposed location may make it more attractive as a place for wanderers to hang out, a problem some libraries have experienced and have been legally unable to remedy.


“Pave Paradise & Put Up a Parking Lot?”

The proposed site for the new library/parking garage would require that at least a portion of MLK Park be paved over.  Valuable green space would disappear and park land would be permanently lost. The move would commercialize the library by putting it adjacent to a commercial development. The buffer quality of the park would be lost.


Current Location Central, More Walkable

The central location of the existing library is much closer to most residents than the westerly proposed re-location. The area is safely residential and an easy walk for many users. It’s also close to, but separated from, Park Avenue.  It is near several pre-schools whose students use it.  Parking is hardly ever an issue. It is generally easier to park there than to park at Publix during busy times.


Space for Children & Seniors? Got That

While those who advocate a new library talk about space needed for children and tutors, we already have several. The Community Center on New England has a children’s library with computers. This facility also offers activities for senior citizens and has a frequently-used commercial kitchen.


$30 Million’s Not the End of It

The existing library had a third story added some years ago; other needed changes can be made to accommodate patrons. Books are still the most important part of a library.

The bond referendum calls for up to $30 million to finance this unneeded construction.  Millions more dollars would be required for interest and operating costs. Winter Parkers would pay tens of millions in taxes over twenty years.

Vote AGAINST the Bond Referendum on March 15.          


Protecting the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it


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

Protecting the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it

Jack-Lane-cropI have always believed in looking to the past to find ways of dealing with the present. That is why I have been impressed by the way in which Winter Park’s anti-preservationist (AP) forces have employed the tactics of fear to cope with the issue of historic preservation.

This method has been employed successfully throughout American history by groups who discover that some evil force is threatening the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it. Such groups regard the tactics of fear as the only course of action in the face of apocalypse.

Historically the tactics of fear have followed a well-established pattern. First the prime movers discover a conspiracy that poses imminent danger to the structure of society. They publicize it as a threat to the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it. They marshal opposition to stamp out the evil force.

Given the gravity of the threat, no method is unacceptable. Misstatement, fabrication, even character assassination are all permitted. No compromise is allowed, because that would be to placate a demonic force.

The tactics of fear were effectively employed by early Puritans when they discovered the Devil had materialized in Salem, Massachusetts, in the guise of witches. We all know how the Puritans dealt with that fearful danger.

The tactics of fear were used throughout the 19th century to crush demonic forces that threatened the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it. In the 20th century, patriotic groups (with a little help from the government) twice saved the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it. In the 1920s, and again in the 1950s, the tactics of fear prevented a Communist takeover of our government.

Present day APs have discovered demons lurking right here in Winter Park. The demons have possessed the bodies of Historic Preservationists. These preservationist demons are campaigning for a stronger historic preservation ordinance which, say the APs, would destroy our very birthright of freedom and property rights, transforming Winter Park into an authoritarian village.

The apocalypse could begin right here in Winter Park. If historic preservation happens here, it can happen anywhere, signaling the demise of the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it.

But we may be saved from the apocalypse by a couple of local APs who have awakened our normally somnolent populace to the possible destruction of the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it.

They have wrested control of the Historic Preservation Board and are ready to move on to the City Commission. If we judge by their recent performance, they will reveal to the Commissioners how the Historic Preservation demons will deprive us of our sacred property rights and other freedoms—unmentioned—and ultimately end the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it.

I might suggest that, to be consistent, the APs employ one of Senator McCarthy’s most effective techniques–wave a sheet of paper in front of the Commissioners and threaten to name names.

“I have here in my hand the names of 250 card-carrying Historic Preservationists who are still practicing their sorcery throughout our fair city. They are threatening to destroy the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it.”

[Note to APs: Don’t forget to destroy the paper afterwards.]

That could be a winner with some of our Commissioners.


Editor’s Note:  Jack C. Lane, a 50-year resident of Winter Park, is Professor Emeritus of Rollins College where he once headed the History Department. He lives in Virginia Heights which, he remarked, has gone from being a potentially designated historic district to being a fully certified McMansion magnet. “Now that’s proving to be the American-way-of-life-as-we-know-it in Winter Park,” said Lane, “a city that describes itself as possessing ‘. . . a unique character due to its historic architecture as reflected in its vibrant downtown, gracious neighborhoods and landmark buildings.’ ”