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.