Commissioner Seidel, Commissioner Sprinkel, and Mayor Leary finalized the decision to start construction of the library and event center on Monday January 27, 2020 in a 3 to 2 vote. Construction begins immediately.
Commissioner Cooper and Commissioner Weaver made motions to postpone and/or remove the covered entry (porte cochere) and the event center rooftop venue. They also made motions to re-design the project or to expand the existing library with a parking structure. These motions did not pass. They then voted against starting construction of the project that has been in process for nearly four years.
Cooper and Weaver missed an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and bring our community together. Instead, they continued to try to redesign the project to their personal liking and criticized project costs while at the same time proposing alternatives that would throw away over $4,000,000 in sunk costs of the current design and throw away the $6,000,000 Orange County grant. The alternatives they moved and seconded were not consistent with the terms of the bond referendum and would result in law suits if approved. Bizarrely, they claimed to be motivated by controlling project cost but their desires would cheapen the quality of the project while throwing away millions of taxpayer dollars.
Now that construction is starting, the contractor is executing contracts for millions of dollars the city is responsible for. Any reversal of the project or further delays add millions in additional taxpayer losses.
What is all this about? One of two things, either Cooper and Weaver are not thinking clearly or they want to keep the myths about the project alive for the March 17, 2020 city commission election to serve their political interests.
Notably, candidate Marty Sullivan spoke calling the project fiscally irresponsible, stating he believed we should support Weaver’s suggestion to start over. He never mentioned the $10,000,000 that would go “poof in the night” if that course were chosen. Also, a priority of candidate Sheila DeCiccio is to “Keep city projects within their approved budget.” Guess which project she is referring to (she is a lawyer)?
Sullivan and DeCiccio are being promoted by Cooper and Weaver and their financial backers. All indications are that Cooper and Weaver will use votes of Sullivan and DeCiccio to kill the library/event center project if elected in March, costing us a certain $10,000,000 and likely as much as $10,000,000 more in cancelled contract costs, while delaying the library/event center for years.
Unfortunately, we have two sitting commissioners, two candidates, and those supporting them who disrespect civil process and who continue the politics of destruction in Winter Park.
Fortunately, there are two other candidates running in the March 17, 2020 election with a constructive outlook.
I leave you with this video of Ann Hicks Murrah’s comments at Monday’s meeting. I encourage all Winter Park voters to listen carefully. It is long past time for all Winter Park citizens to join together in support of this project as designed.
Regards, Pete Weldon