Editor’s note: Joe Terranova served as Mayor of Winter Park from 1997 to 2000.
I have not been able to take an active part in the deliberations of the Library Task Force, nor was I able to attend the public forums on this subject. The Task Force is composed of an excellent group of dedicated citizens, and their report reflects the diligence they pursued in putting this report together.
I must say, however, that I am appalled at their principal recommendation to locate the new library in the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Park on the north side of Morse Boulevard.
I am an avid Library supporter. I served as Trustee and Treasurer of the Library. I also served as treasurer of the PAC that was set up to lobby the citizens to vote in favor of a bond issue to build the third floor on the existing Library. I have been a financial supporter of the library for many years. We have a great library in Winter Park, and I agree it needs to be relocated and expanded. Winter Park also has an exceptional, diversified and expansive park system.
The recommended location of the library to the north end of MLK Park is a disaster, and here’s why.
First, imagine the footprint of the recommended library and put it in Kraft Azalea Gardens, Mead Gardens or Central Park. What would be your reaction?
“Impossible,” you might say. “It would destroy the park. Forget it!”
And so should you say ‘likewise’ with regard to the north side of MLK Park for the location of the new library. The current park land on Morse Boulevard acts as a buffer to the lake in the park. Without this buffer, the habitat for the large birds that live on or migrate to the lake would be untenable, and that would be an unnecessary tragedy.
While you have a responsibility to provide citizens with an adequate (indeed, superior) library, you have a larger responsibility to protect the few remaining natural assets in Winter Park to ensure they are passed on to future generations in at least as good or better shape than they were before you sat on the Commission.
Those of us who walk take immense pleasure in the passive interaction with the large birds in this park – especially egret, ibis, anhinga, heron and many more, including the endangered wood stork.
What to do?
I have never been able to satisfactorily answer the question, why do we have a Civic Center and a Community Center within walking distance of each other? We have a new state-of-the-art Community Center and will soon have a new 21st Century library. To what extent can functions currently taking place at our old 1970s Civic Center be transferred to the new Community Center or, for that matter, to the existing Welcome Center? Could the remaining functions be incorporated into a redesigned library?
On Monday, June 22, you received the report of the Library Task Force.
I strongly urge you to reconsider using the current Civic Center site by planning to tear down the existing building and constructing a new library there. I would suggest moving the footprint close to the intersection of Harper and Morse so that future expansion could take place to the rear of the new library, west of the large stand of trees that effectively blocks any man-made construction and noise from the lake and the birds.
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