Open Letter to Mayor & Commissioners
Status of New ‘Library’ Project
Guest Columnist Joe Terranova
The election results on Tuesday, March 12 were most interesting. It is rare that an incumbent places second in a 3 way race, or in my opinion, would have lost if only the top two candidates ran unless he were an idiot or committed grievous acts on his own while a sitting commissioner. No one can say that about Peter Weldon. So why such a poor showing against a relatively unknown challenger?
All of you know I was a member of the group that tried to prevent the city from constructing the new library in Martin Luther King Park. The courts ruled in favor of the city and as far as I am concerned this is a settled issue.
Most of the people I speak to, however, are very upset with the current City Commission`s handling of the library project. The design of grandiose structures that do not fit into the fabric of Winter Park, the dominance of the project by the civic center — later called the events center and now perhaps the convention center –plus the desire of the commission to add on items to the project in excess of the funds approved by the voters has led to dissatisfaction among many — do I dare say a majority of Winter Park voters?
Naming the project the “Canopy” and then cutting down all the beautiful specimen trees was the penultimate insult. Finally, I listened to the Mayor`s presentation to the Orange Country Commission requesting tourist dollars and to Todd Weaver`s “Bait and Switch” video.
When did the citizens of Winter Park agree to be an Orange County Convention Center “Lite?” When was a discussion held with the residents on the West Side concerning the impact of thousands of visitors to their area?
True, many in the business community like the idea of thousands of additional tourists (translate: potential business customers) swarming through Winter Park.
During the time I was Mayor I worked hard each day to advance my vision of Winter Park as a “Premier Urban Village.” Every new iteration to this project moves us further from that goal. Putting lipstick on this pig just does not help it be anything other than a pig.
I am not a psychic who can predict the results of the run off election on April 9, but I can say this project is way off course.
The proper thing to do is swallow the current expenses paid to date, scrap the whole thing and start over. I doubt, however, that this will happen. The run off election should be interesting.
Joe Terranova was Mayor of Winter Park from 1997 – 2000.