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”?

 

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9 replies
  1. Gary Barker says:

    Ms. Krueger’s suggestion was looked at but further evaluation showed it was not feasible. It actually was one of the first ideas investigated.

    Reply
  2. Leonard Feinberg, Architect says:

    It seems that the development of a New Library as well as a new City Hall has been a conundrum. I believe I have the best solution to all of the issues raised with budget, site selection, etc.

    1) Design and bid a new City Hall on the site of the existing Library. Then….
    2) Move the existing library into temporary office lease space (I.e. Denning and Morse)
    3) Tear down the existing Library and build the new City Hall. While this is taking place….
    4) Design and bid a new Library on the site of the existing City Hall.
    5) Move City Hall to the New City Hall Site
    6) Tear down existing City Hall and build new Library facing Park Ave.
    7) Relocate Library from rental space into New Library building.

    Estimated design, bid and build cycle for both projects……2 years 6 mos.

    Reply
  3. Shari Yudenfreund-Sujka says:

    I can not quite understand how the Library before the vote on the library bond was inadequate in so many ways, but now it is being discussed to move city hall to this building. Either the building is substandard, or it is not.
    And as for needing more space for children, there is a mostly unused area on the first floor of the present library that should be put to good use instead of being empty most of the time. As I have heard someone else comment, there is a Community Center on New England that could be used for meetings so as not to tie up such a late unused space.
    What I am also not hearing with the city talking about moving city hall is what they would do with the old building off of Park Avenue.
    I am sure that a developer would just love to get their hands on that property. Just what we need, more shops or condos and more traffic.
    This is not the same city of homes I moved into over twenty years ago. Other people have said the same thing, they can not leave their houses at certain times of the day if they do not want to get stuck in traffic that is at a standstill.
    Can someone please tell me where there city is going?

    Reply
  4. Stephen Pategas says:

    This is a good option to explore. The bottom line is to have a library that will serve our needs well for the foreseeable future. Thank you Vicki!

    Reply
  5. Donald Thompson says:

    Now we are starting to make a more reasonable approach to this project. But, will the City government listen to the wishes of the people?

    Reply
  6. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting idea! Both venues need upgrading. This proposal would satisfy time, space

    and cost considerations. Definitely worth further discussion. Thank you!

    Reply
  7. Fido says:

    Why does a library have to be under one roof?

    Spread it out over several small downtown locations where people naturally gather anyway. Near shopping, parks, churches. Some books here. Some books there.

    Mixing a Civic Center with a Library is like mixing cats and dogs.

    Reply
  8. Laurel says:

    I do like many of these ideas, unfortunately they are not possible legally.

    As I am given to understand the bond money may only be used toward a new library and events center, not a remodeled library and events center.

    Further, the two cannot be separated via the bond language as it calls for “shared spaces” between the two facilities. The City lawyer already addressed this at a Commission meeting. He said a judge might agree to move the location, but not to separate the buildings.

    Even though I am in favor of the civic center location for the new library, I very much had hopes that the civic center could be built there and the library built on the Post Office site. I was however told that this was not possible due to the above legal reasons.

    Reply

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