City Commission Chooses Options for New and Old Library Parking Lots

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The popularity of the Winter Park Library & Events Center continues to create a parking dilemma that designated spaces and a 2022 lot expansion did not solve. However, the former library building can provide some measure of downtown parking relief while generating revenue as a valet lot. Commissioners reviewed options for both properties during their May 8 meeting.

Library & Events Center

During her opening comments about the Library & Events Center parking problem, Mayor Sheila DeCiccio estimated a deficit of 200 parking spaces during peak hours when events at both facilities overlap with the lunch and/or dinner rush at nearby restaurants. She stated the deficit takes into consideration the available parking at the Harper Street garage, and the Valencia and Orlando Health lots. She also noted a pending increase in attendance once upgrades to MLK Park are complete. “There will be many more visitors and events, as well as when Music Under the Stars begins in the amphitheater at the library,” she said.

According to City Manager Randy Knight, a lakeside parking lot and additional spaces along Harper Avenue were pulled from the original construction plan pending an assessment of parking needs once the facilities opened. City staff combined new versions of the plans with two additional parking solutions that were presented to commissioners during their meeting.

Option A:

Paved surface parking for 37 additional spaces with stormwater retention at a cost of $296,000.

Option B:

Paved surface parking for 49 additional spaces with stormwater retention at a cost of $618,000, and an additional $90,000 to reposition the croquet court.

Option C:

A 202-space parking garage at a cost of $7.98 million – not including stormwater retention – and approximately $2 million to replace the maintenance building, and between $100,000-$200,000 to move the croquet court.

Option D:

Constructing an additional 29 parking spaces on Harper Street at $209,000.

Options B and C would replace the 60-year-old Lake Island Hall rental facility, which according to city documents has not been of recent use to residents or the Parks and Recreation Department. Knight also mentioned the possibility of contracting a valet company to control parking during large events for which the city is currently drafting a request for proposals.

Commissioner Mary Sullivan, who serves on the Library Board, agreed with the need for additional parking and leaned toward Option B for its minimal impact to pervious area with the removal of Lake Island Hall. He also suggested the city explore options to share parking spaces in lots to the west of Harper Street.

Commissioner Craig Russell suggested options B and D would more closely match the original parking plan. Commissioner Kris Cruzada agreed; however, Commissioner Todd Weaver, who was appointed Vice Mayor at the last meeting, cited storm drainage concerns and pending basin studies as reasons to reserve the lakeside area for potential widening should additional stormwater retention be needed. He pointed to Option D as the least expensive and the closest solution to the library building, and was in favor of valet parking. He also suggested signage directing guests to nearby parking lots.

Mayor DeCiccio made a motion to accept options B and D, noting the combined 78 parking spots as the minimum that Commission should consider. A motion by Vice Mayor Weaver to approve Option D and to hold the vote on B was not seconded. Weaver was the only dissenting vote for Options B and D.

Old library lot

The original home of the Winter Park Library, located at 460 E. New England Ave., has been vacant for nearly three years but the Alfond Inn at Rollins College sees use in the facility for its 69 parking spaces.

The city previously granted Rollins an agreement for the old library parking lot to be used as a laydown yard during the Alfond Inn expansion project. A recently negotiated monthly rate of $45 per space would amount to $3,105 in monthly revenue, and according to the terms of the lease agreement, the College would maintain and insure the lot. Rollins is not obliged to provide security services for the lot or the building, and a 30-day out clause is included for both parties. The revenue would go toward the General Fund and offset maintenance and utilities costs for the 45-year-old building until its fate is decided.

Commissioners unanimously approved the lease agreement and are set to reboot the discussion on the future of the property during a May 23 work session.

The next City Commission meeting is scheduled for May 22. Meeting information and access to agendas, archived videos, and livestreams is available at cityofwinterpark/org/meetings.

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