What’s in a Name?

Who Gets to Choose?

What’s in a Name?

The January 22nd Commission meeting concluded with a lively discussion about the library-event center. At issue was, what do we call it? And, more importantly, who gets to decide?

Naming Rights – Whose Right?

On the agenda that night was an ordinance and accompanying policy language that bestowed the privilege of granting naming rights upon the Mayor and City Manager. The Mayor and Commissioners Peter Weldon and Greg Seidel thought that was okay, but Cooper and Sprinkel weren’t having any of it. Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel stated that she was affronted by the notion that decision-making authority would rest anywhere besides with the Commission as a whole.

Cooper’s Compromise

After several attempts, Commissioner Carolyn Cooper was able to get support for an amendment to the policy, giving the final decision-making authority to the Commission for naming the library building in its entirety, the event center building in its entirety, and the complex as a whole.

The ‘City,’ for which read, City staff in consultation with the Mayor and/or the Winter Park Library Association, may still decide naming rights for a room or an amenity or a portion of the facility, based on the size of the donation and the wishes of the donor.

Library Task Force Wants Naming Rights, Too

Not 48 hours later, Tom McMacken, Leslie O’Shaughnessy and Sam Stark gathered early Wednesday morning at City Hall for a meeting of the Library Task Force (LTF). There, too, the discussion included parking (there’s not enough of it), and naming – except here it was called branding.

The difference, apparently, lies in the purpose to which the language is put. If an entity tasked with raising funds is attempting to attract substantial donors, the name is a brand – something to be sold to the highest bidder. Once the highest bidder has bought the brand and the check has cleared, she or he gets to name the thing for which they’ve paid.

“A Piece of White Toast”

Sam Stark observed that the name ‘Library-Event Center’ was about as exciting as a piece of white toast. “At some point, we need to name this thing,” said Stark. “We need to name it, brand it, and then sell it.”

Forming a Campus

Assistant City Manager Michelle Neuner pointed out that the community is anxious to see the park upgrades and the new library-event center treated as a single project. Feedback indicates community desire for the Commission to structure their discussions along those lines. Taking their cue from Neuner’s suggestion, the LTF discussion began to refer to the park with its upgrades and the library-event center project as a cohesive whole – a campus.

Creating a Brand

The Task Force entertained a motion to create a Branding Task Force, but since only the Commission can create a Task Force, they settled for a Branding Subcommittee of the Library Task Force. The Subcommittee would be comprised of representatives from the Parks & Recreation Department, the Library, the LTF and City staff. Representing the LTF would be Sam Stark, and representing the City will probably be Communications Director Clarissa Howard.

The motion to create the Branding Subcommittee will appear on the February 12 Commission meeting agenda to receive the Commission’s approval. Members of the Subcommittee will be identified at that meeting.

Project Will Be Branded by Spring

The LTF plans for the Subcommittee to report out at the April 9 Commission meeting with a brand name. It will be up to the Subcommittee to hammer out the most appropriate approach and to determine how to brand the project, and/or the buildings, and/or the entire campus.

When the branding is successful — and there is no reason to believe it won’t be — then the Library-Event Center will finally get a Name.

  • author's avatar

    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.

  • author's avatar

22 replies
  1. Lori Wise says:

    What is wrong with calling the library “Winter Park Library?” Aren’t WP taxpayers paying for this?
    Any “branding” can be reflected inside the library. There will be rooms to dedicate, I am sure.
    The library needs to have a name separate and apart from the event center, even though they are on the same campus.

    • carol bechtel says:

      As a former member of the WPPL Board of Trustees…I agree with Lori the name is and should remain The Winter Park Public Library. Period.

  2. Love the Park says:

    How about the Winter Park Public Library. Or Winter Park Free Library. Eventually people will understand that it’s about more than books.

    • Caroline says:

      This Library is not Free! A park is being stolen from us to build this monstrous new building with way too much concrete surrounding it; way too much traffic attracted to an already congested area, and exactly how big will the parking garage be to accomodate the library on a busy day with very large events going on at the Civic Center simultaneously? We were hoodwinked on that one.
      The name should remain Winter Park Library and how about the Martin Luther King Civic Center?
      Sell park benches, rooms, or the garage to people who want to advertise their philanthropy. But it is our library in Martin Luther King Park.
      Let’s show some integrity.

  3. Alicia Homrich says:

    Seriously?! Let’s not sell our community soul to the highest bidder!
    This is a community library created for and by the city residents.
    The Winter Park Library (and Resource Center?) is the rightful name of this institution for which the residents will pay.

  4. Donald Thompson says:

    NAMING OF EVENT CENTER – Ann Saurman’s comment that it should be “Winter Park Public Library” is valid. That is, if that is what it is. Unfortunately, we all know that is NOT what it is. It is a $34M plus, “event center”, with a little library on the side. The average citizen, in Winter Park, will be paying for this the rest of their lives; yet get limited use. Many of us have a better idea of how to benefit the majority of the citizens; but “government” knows best. What should it be? With technology advancing at “lightning speed”, the $34M should provide a major “world class” technology learning center for all citizens, young and elderly, rich and poor.

  5. Beth Hall says:

    The library should retain its historic name. Winter Park Public Library.
    Ann Saurman has stated it perfectly. Thank you.

  6. No Appraisal? says:

    The City is selling property without first getting a qualified, independent, appraiser’s opinion of the value of the naming rights.

    This is very irregular.

    Naming rights is City property. No different than vehicles, real estate, computers, investments, or any other property of the City’s. And there are experts who can estimate the value of naming rights, just as there are experts who know about other assets.

    An independent appraisal is crucial to ensure the taxpayers that commissioners are not offering one of their buddies a sweetheart deal. That’s why no appraisal will be done. It’s a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of City Commission.

    And what’s the rush? Building won’t be completed for years. So why not allow public bids through construction and even a year or two following completion? Might even get higher bids once the building is complete. Probably would if donors were allowed to see what it looks like after completion. Seems like the responsible way would be an ongoing, widely and frequently advertised, public auction for the naming rights, starting with a minimum bid of value estimated by an independent, qualified, appraiser.

    But, that would interfere with the politicians’ backroom deal for the naming rights, so doing the right thing is unlikely in Winter Park.

    Should come as no surprise though. This entire library-events center fiasco has been just one shady deal after another.

    • Craig DeLongy says:

      “Shady deal”. “ Commissioners buddies?” Where do you come up with these accusations? Very irresponsible comments with no merit

  7. Something Fishy says:

    Building naming rights are often awarded on a TEMPORARY basis. This ensures that full market value of the naming rights can be achieved as the value of these rights grow.

    The most visible example of this is in the sporting world where the names of stadiums frequently change every 5 years or so. It’s essentially a lease on the naming rights, rather than outright ownership. That would make more sense for Winter Park as well. And it’s not clear why Winter Park is in such a hurry to make a quick deal for PERMANENT naming rights.

    What Winter Park appears to be preparing to do is selling the naming rights IN PERPETUITY to someone, without any regard to current market value of these rights, or the likelihood that that value will grow in the future.

    Whether the ultimate use of the buildings will be as a library, events center, art museum, or some other use, can also effect the value of naming rights as the marketing of the facility changes. If it becomes an art museum for example, that caters to a higher wealth constituency than does a public library, carrying much more prestige, so the name becomes more valuable.

    Yet the City Commission’s approved naming procedure doesn’t allow for a re-bid for naming rights, if the future use of the facility should change. The use of the word “campus” is also curious as that typically relates to an academic institution. And this raises the question regarding the City property possibly becoming an extension of Rollins College at some time in the future.

    As the population of Central Florida grows, the value of naming rights can also be expected to increase. For these reasons, the announced naming rights protocol of the Winter Park City Commission appears to be fiscally irresponsible, at best, and begs the question, “Who benefits?” from the rush to name.

    One thing’s for sure. This is like no public library project anywhere ever seen like this before. That means either they don’t know what they are doing, OR, they know EXACTLY what they are doing, and just don’t want to tell the rest of us.

  8. No Book Bans says:

    The new library should be named for the elderly lady that the Commissioners had arrested a few years ago for reading her Bible peacefully on the public sidewalk in Winter Park.

    Libraries are all about celebrating the freedom to share ideas, the written word, the free flow of information.

    The new library should serve as a reminder to all who enter, that THE PEOPLE of Winter Park support the First Amendment rights of everyone, even during times when our elected representatives are openly hostile to those rights.

    Just inside the entrance, the Bible she was reading from should be on permanent display, in a prominent and protective glass case and open to the page she was reading at the time of her arrest, along with an inscription honoring her, and the words, “May all who govern Winter Park always remember their duty to protect The First Amendment in all its many forms.”

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am curious why Leslie O’Shaughnessy is a member of the Library Task Force when she is not a resident and not a citizen of Winter Park. If you cannot vote in Winter Park, then why would you be making policy recommendations or decisions that effect actual voters.

    • Eyeless in Gaza says:

      Surely this can’t be true. If indeed Ms. O’Shaughnessy is not a resident of Winter Park, she has no standing. While her suggestions and input may be welcome, she should do so “off Task Force.” She should not be serving on the Task Force in place of another qualified citizen when only 3 citizen Task Force slots are available. This weakens the strength of the Task Force recommendations and opens up the process to speculation about stacking the deck — the last thing this “random-walk” project needs as budgets creep upward, promised parking decks are abandonned and preliminary engineering for the site itself raises questions about vetting and suitability. And this is just the beginning.

      BTW, what have we paid so far to Adjaye and Associates? Half his $1.7 million fee? If so, why?

    • Shill says:

      The Task Force represents YOU, the citizens of Winter Park. The Task Force will always be YOUR task force. EVERY decision of the Task Force is FOR the citizens of Winter Park. You can TRUST the Task Force.

      Don’t listen to those who QUESTION The Task Force’s motives, decisions, or procedures. They are CONSPIRACY THEORISTS. Every Task Force member is completely unbiased, impartial, and objective. Each member was carefully selected based on how well they would represent ALL the citizens of Winter Park.

      Repeat the following mantra daily for 30 days, TWICE A DAY, morning and evening for 20 minutes,:


      Repeat in front of a Park Avenue government surveillance camera to show your pride in your city.

  10. Beth Hall says:

    Posts here raise some valid concerns over sale of naming rights to the new facilities being constructed in MLK Park. While there is still ample time to do so, it is imperative that the City and the Library undertake the task of adopting the rules which will govern this process.

    This is not a case of the first impression and there are many sources for “best practices” to be followed by the City in this regard.

    Allowing the mayor and the city manager to preside over such determinations is not a best practice. The embedded video of Sarah Sprinkel suggests she was elected to preside over determinations of naming rights and was affronted that she might not be able to do so. Adoption of a formal procedure governing the sale of naming rights protects all parties and the community at large.

    What is needed:

    1. Adoption of a formal written gift acceptance policy;

    2. Adoption of a formal donor recognition policy;

    3. A written gift agreement for each gift to specify things such as precisely what is being named, the term for which the name shall be recognized, any basis for change or termination of the agreement, as well as a clause specifying what will happen if the donor should engage is behavior which would reflect badly on the library/events center.

    The city is not a charitable organization or non-profit, but it should follow the best practices applied by such entities in regard to the sale of naming rights.

  11. Beth Hall says:

    Please, Lord, help me to refrain from commenting on the Voice until I have actually read the agenda packet for the meeting in question. Amen.

    (Comments I made above were made prior to reading the agenda packet wherein naming policy provisions were included as an exhibit.)

  12. Mr. Kiamoto says:

    I would suggest Tom McMacken, Leslie O’Shaughnessy and Sam Stark take a minute out of their discussions to remember a little of our history. Surely Mr. Stark will remember the Carlisle debacle, when the character of our historical Central Park was almost changed forever by a huge, looming condo project. A voter revolt stopped that.

    If Rachel Murrah was important enough in our history to have our civic center named after her – and she was – why do these nouveau minds on the task force think she is now so irrelevant as to be visibly removed from our history? We might as well scratch the name of Martin Luther King Park and re-brand it, too. No need for a Hamilton Holt Hall at Rollins, either. Or the Albin Polasek Museum, for that matter.

  13. Eyeless in Gaza says:

    Given the continuing budget-busters that have plagued this project from the outset–there is only one fitting descriptor:

    Sir David’s Trader Joe’s Annex and Surplus Parking Deck with Stormwater Basin and a really nice room with books. (Addendum–make that No Parking Deck). A Steve Leary Project.

    St Johns Water Management District requests that this signage be posted at Morse and Harper: NO WAKE ZONE.


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