Winter Park Library may move to MLK Park

Relocating to MLK Park?

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  • | 8:51 a.m. June 25, 2015
Photo by: City of Winter Park - A potential combined library and civic center in Martin Luther King Jr. Park wowed Winter Park City Commissioners on Monday.
Photo by: City of Winter Park - A potential combined library and civic center in Martin Luther King Jr. Park wowed Winter Park City Commissioners on Monday.
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UPDATE: An earlier version of this story listed the size of the proposed library as 60,000 square feet, which was only a preliminary suggestion. The proposed project was reduced in size to 50,000 square feet.


Winter Park’s vision of a new library is slowly shifting into focus, with a potential location for a new facility coming into view.

The Winter Park Library Facility Task Force gave its final presentation on a new public library to Winter Park City Commissioners on Monday after a year of intensive research and meetings.

Task Force chair Sam Stark brought forth the group’s top three location options if the city were to construct a new library, with the northeast corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Park leading the way.

The MLK Park location at the corner of Morse Boulevard and Denning Drive would feature a 50,000-square-foot library on the lake complete with 160 parking spaces and surrounding walkways and trails.

It could even be merged with a brand new Civic Center, replacing the Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center directly to the west, Stark said.

“This would be something truly transformational in the community,” he said.

He noted that placing a library in MLK Park would bring more residents to the green space and bring more activity to Morse Boulevard, a gateway road considered by City Commissioners to be underutilized.

“Morse now becomes another gateway, a true gateway that it was intended to be,” Stark said.

Other location options presented by the Task Force included the existing parking lot beside City Hall and the current library site along Fairbanks Avenue, where the facility could be expanded or reconstructed all together.

While the MLK site holds a hefty price tag of just over $15 million, it’s the cheapest of all the recommended sites, Stark said. Creating a new library on the existing site along Fairbanks would be the most expensive option at $23.5 million

Winter Park Public Library Executive Director Shawn Shaffer has been pushing for a new library since last year, reasoning that the current facility suffers from lack of space, a shortage in parking and outdated electrical wiring.

A study presented by the Library Task Force shows that the library’s current collection of 140,000 volumes exceeds the building’s capacity by roughly 20,000. That’s after the library was forced to weed out nearly 30,000 items between 2013 and 2015.

The study says shelving capacity maxed out more than 10 years ago.

Stark insisted that something needs to change.

“This library for a myriad of reasons is not up to par,” Stark said. “It doesn’t accommodate the residents, nor the region, nor any element that a 21st century library should be doing.”

City Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel adamantly spoke in favor of the MLK Park site adding that it should include a new Civic Center.

“This library will put people in the park,” Sprinkel said. “I’m all in favor of this space. I didn’t think I would be when we started, but to open up Morse Boulevard and say to this community ‘We have another beautiful boulevard, not just Park Avenue’… I don’t want us to kick this can down the road. We need to do this now.”

Other commissioners were unsure of what location would work best, but agreed that the city needs a new library.

“As I looked at this, you brought me a long way,” City Commissioner Carolyn Cooper said. “I didn’t really think we needed a new library and I will say you have changed my mind. I’m thrilled to be supporting a new library.”

The City Commission will discuss their next step moving forward during a work session within the coming weeks.


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