LARGO - Disposition of the future of the old library building is a done deal - done with no little prestidigitation, by the way - so the views of Jim Janowski, expressed in a June 5 letter is that of one crying in the wilderness.
And crying, in this case, might be interpreted both as a voice being raised and as one sobbing with disappointment.
The fact is, the people of Largo were never heard in the thinking (was there any, really?) in deciding what would become of the old building.
The City Commission heard by mail from some citizens, but ignored them. This was a decision made long ago and carefully guided and orchestrated until Pat Gerard, the mayor, finally delivered to herself through a willing commission a dream she expressed again and again.
Janowski's letter landed on the desks of Largo commissioners before they made their final decision the next day. Unfortunately, it was ignored. No public hearing was ever held on the future of the old library.
Gerard, who skated on election violations in 2005, and got away with a conflict of interest ethics violation this year because Alan Zimmet, the city's lawyer, put his silver crested head on the block, has been very lucky.
The betting now is that the program run by her employer and for which she was found to have violated Florida ethics law will now find a place in the old library building.
The building is going to become an arts center and the programs that were held at the Community Center, on 4th Street in the downtown area, are being moved to the old library building.
This is necessary because Steve Stanton, Largo's city planner - oops - city manager, has high rises planned there and a whole new approach to what Largo should be all about, upsetting most normal and conventional citizens of the city.
Janowski raised some interesting questions that, figuratively speaking, never saw the light of day. There was false information put out by some city commissioners (aka, the "bobbleheads") that Commissioner Mary Black tried to combat. Her efforts were greeted by smirking derision by Gerard.
Janowski asked, "What is the refurbishment cost" of the old building other than the "oh, about $2 million or so" guesstimate by the city staff?
(St. Petersburg College offered to put a prestigious part of its burgeoning school in the old building that would have cost the city nothing. Unfortunately, it did not fit into Gerard's "hobby horse" scheme.)
Janowski raised the questions that most citizens would have put forth had they had an opportunity. Among other things, he wondered, in his letter, about the high-rise development (it has been vigorously denied at city hall, but it is a reality - wait and see) in the downtown area.
The bottom line for Janowski was his belief that when the commission made its call on the old library building "it should be an educated decision. Are you prepared and informed enough to make a decision on the fate of the Community Center?"
He got his answer June 6. "Educated decision," "prepared" and "informed" were all aspects beside the point. The decision had been made long ago.
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