In Brief: More money for public art, Dinky Dock changes and the new fate of the old library
Recent action by the City Commission will pave the way for more art as well as changes at two high-profile landmarks
After years of trying, Winter Park’s Public Art Advisory Board won approval this month for what will likely be a small, but steady stream of funds from the city budget to help pay for art in public spaces.
The City Commission unanimously approved a plan to dedicate 10% of any increase in the Unassigned General Fund each year to the project. That’s the same formula the city uses to devote money to the acquisition of park land, a plan that has raised about $1 million since it went into place in 2003 at an average of more than $50,000 a year.
While a lot of variables can impact the city budget each year, officials said they expect the public art fund to perform at a similar level.
Members of the public art board pleaded with members of the commission last week to approve the proposal and expressed concern that the “city of culture and heritage” didn’t have dedicated funding for art. The City Commission rejected a proposal last year to create a stream of art funding from building permit fees.
“We have nothing to make our ideas happen,” said Elizabeth Ingram, a member of the Public Art Advisory Board for about a year who also grew up in Winter Park. “It’s disappointing when there isn’t anything to bring those to our city. I don’t think we can rely on private donors anymore.”
Tinker Marsh, another member of the board, also expressed surprise that board did not have any dollars to spend on its mission.
“We really need to make Winter Park the first-class community we know it is,” Marsh said.
The board has discussed recommending works of art for the new Seven Oaks Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Park and other city gateways.
Commissioner Marty Sullivan called the funding plan a “good start.”
“This is a very good move in the right direction,” he said.
New plans for the old library
Since the new Winter Park Library and Events Center opened, ideas and debate have swirled around what to do with the old library site on the corner of East Fairbanks and Lyman avenues.
Commissioners rejected a proposal earlier this year to repurpose the old building by transforming it into office and business incubator space among other uses.
Now, however, there appears to be agreement among the commission to ask developers for new ideas and, this time around, allow residential units and also permit the building to be demolished rather than reused.
Commissioners agreed at a work session last week to consider putting out a new Request for Proposal as soon as next month.
A spokeswoman for Rollins College said the school is not currently interested in the site and is considering a workforce housing project elsewhere.
Workforce housing is a hot topic in Winter Park as home prices have soared beyond the means of many of the people who work for some of the city’s largest employers such as Rollins, the hospital and City Hall.
More parking at Dinky Dock
The number of parking spaces at the popular Dinky Dock public boat ramp will increase by 50% to 33 regular spaces and 12 trailer spaces, under a plan approved by the City Commission.
Repairs will also be made to the dock’s boardwalk.
The city will spend about $154,000 on the project from the more than $15 million it received from the federal American Rescue Plan Act or COVID stimulus money approved by Congress in 2021.
Public art can be either very good or very bad.
There’s not much in between.
The problem is, once the public art has been approved and installed by the City, the residents are stuck with it – forever.
Would you want three people you don’t know on a Public Art advisory board deciding what kind of art to hang on the walls in your home?
Well Winter Park is your home.
So the residents should have the final say so before any future public art is installed. Not just three folks who think they can make these decisions for 30,000 residents.
And with a dedicated budget, the question changes from “Do we need any public art?” to “What public art can we buy with our budget and put it somewhere in Winter Park?”
That’s the kind of thinking that leads to poor art choices. Because of Winter Park’s natural beauty, there are very few spaces in the City that can be improved upon with public art and look better than it did without it.
Residents could without their consent, have a lot of visual distractions imposed on them, detracting from the beautiful landscapes that make Winter Park what it is, and making the town look worse, not better.
They sure enhanced our natural beauty and improved the entrance to eastbound I-4 off Fairbanks with that “art,” didn’t they? $100,000.00 price tag, wasn’t it?
Wish the old library would remain a library for the neighborhood.
The new library has been a big failure for anybody over age 12.
Nothing warm and cozy about it. If there is an event the noise of the event is heard in every corner of the building.
Why are there so few books there!?
What about making the old library a center that includes a library and a place for activities and small events and lectures.
I totally agree. Sandra Blossey
The sad thing is that the public art shown on this link was approved by local governments.
Even sadder is that those approving the public art actually thought it looked good.
It would be naive to assume that with now a dedicated funding source that similar foolishness could not be approved in Winter Park.
Recall how so many on the City Commission at the time thought that the Library and Events Center design was “beautiful” and how they fawned over the architect, ignoring the residents who said “Emperor’s New Clothes.”
“Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.”
This tangled mass of metal is not the remains of a car or boat wreck.
It is a “sculpture” on Lake Eola in Orlando.
The sculpture is of birds in flight.
Which might be appropriate somewhere where there are no birds.
But Lake Eola has many species of real birds including swans, making this sculpture look like the cheap imitation of the real thing that it is.
It is placed in a spot visible from Robinson St. that forces people to look at it as it blocks the beautiful view of the lake.
This is what the desire for public art does.
It ruins scenic surroundings.
Here’s another example at Lake Eola.
No this is not a joke.
Winter Park has a bad case of “Orlando envy.”
Careful what you wish for Winter Park.
This is a terrible idea. Government should not be taking our money to commission someone else’s idea of “art” that we all are stuck with for generations. We can all agree that art is deeply personal. What someone thinks is beautiful, someone else thinks is trash. It is not the proper role of government to spend our money on whimsy. Besides, there is NOTHING more beautiful than nature itself. Trees, birds, lakes, fauna and flora are what make Florida the place we love. Let’s work on protecting natural beauty and leave the twisted metal for personal endeavors.