City Sues to Validate Library/Event Center Bond Issue

City Sues to Validate Library/Event Center Bond Issue


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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.

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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12 replies
  1. Donald Thompson says:

    This Event Center / Parking Garage project has the perception of “government against the people”; instead of government of, by, and for the people. And the people will lose, again, to an over powering / dictatorial government. There has to be a better, more diplomatic, way of handling this.

    Reply
  2. Do Not Judge says:

    The timeframe will get stretched out. In about 9 months, we will be told again that a decision is expected in 3 to 4 months. Then after about a year has gone by, we will be told that there should be a decision from the court on this matter within 90 days.

    Judges run for election and they don’t want half the people in Winter Park voting against them, or not contributing to their re-election campaigns. Nobody’s going to want to rule on this case.

    Reply
  3. Laurel says:

    I do not know if this is the usual practice for the City for I have heard they are doing this in order to respond to the petitioners who are still attempting to stop the library project but I suppose it makes sense to ensure there are no legal impediments.

    I hope this is resolved quickly. I am very excited for the new library!! I believe it will be wonderful.

    Reply
  4. JT says:

    In the July issue of the Park Press, there’s an article on p8 that details a beautiful remodeling project at the Downtown Orange County Library. This would work perfectly for Winter Park at a cost of 5% of the price the city is requesting to tear down the civic center and rebuild a library/activities center in a city park. Let’s consider this more economical alternative & uphold the request of the original owner of the MLK park land who donated it “for recreational purposes only.”

    Reply
  5. Whit Blanton says:

    I’m so tired of this. The issue was settled with the referendum and the City needs to move on with the new library in a location that has been determined through a technical feasibility process. After 17 years as a city homeowner and resident (and 30+ in the area), the divisiveness and indecision fostered by the One Winter Park and Winter Park Voice cadre of “no change” NIMBYs is hurting Winter Park and its residents at large. In two weeks I am moving to Clearwater, and while I will miss much about this great community, I will not miss the snarky divisiveness you’ve fostered that prevents anything from being settled. From the Comp Plan to SunRail to parks, you’ve made it very hard for Winter Park to make the critical strategic decisions it needs to continue to provide opportunity. I think I’ll be glad to be rid of the local drama.

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  6. Charlotte says:

    I’m pleased to hear the signatures were gathered and that the City Commission will now have to consider honoring the voices of those who feel MLK Park should remain as green as possible. We need a new library; we need green space to remain green; we have other site choices, and the City’s citizens should have a say in this.

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  7. BSW says:

    There’s BIG money to be made in this project…..design and build, surrounding land values to increase immensely, legal fees galore etc. Despite one heck of an effort by the opponents to the project, my cynical side tells me they will lose terribly to those who will ultimately profit……

    Reply
    • Bob says:

      Just curious…what surrounding land will go up in value? MLK park…the new Unicorp Development…the CNL Bldg…Valencia College?? Who will ultimately profit from the construction of a new library and civic center? I guess architects, engineers and contractors will make modest profits for their endeavors, but where is this ” BIG money ” going?

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  8. Laurel says:

    I believe the VOTE which was held in March was sufficient to determine that a number of citizens were opposed to the project. Putting those same votes before a judge is redundant.

    This Political Group outright lied to citizens to get them to sign their petition. I very much doubt they will prevail especially when one considers that the ordinance did in fact address the removal of the Civic Center.

    Claiming that the Voters did not know upon what they were voting when it was heavily publicized by both sides is ludicrous!! Imagine the chaos if each election allowed one to “take back” their vote. Silly!!

    I sincerely hope that Hon. Judge Margaret Schreiber sees through the anti-library group’s flimsy argument.

    Reply
  9. Donald Thompson says:

    A compromise on the location of the new library will do wonders for the spirit of our community. Build a library that makes everyone proud; but build it in a more acceptable location. Then everyone becomes a hero. My suggestion is a location nearer downtown and a site that replaces the worst structures that we would all love to replace; like the post office building.

    Reply

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