Letter to the Editor: Capen currency has a shelf life

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My marketing students have already figured out what needs to happen here. The question is ... have Winter Park residents?

City "fathers" and "mothers" who have spearheaded and supported the Capen House move are to be warmly congratulated for their incredible efforts. But there's nothing wrong with asking for something in return, especially when doing so benefits the entire community.

Rest assured that our mayor and city commissioners will have the last word on the way in which historic preservation plays out in Winter Park. That's how it works everywhere. It will be no different here. What is different in our town is that we're under the mistaken impression that a local government stacked against historic preservation can objectively react to committees, consultants, etc. trying to get a word in edgewise for historic preservation.

In Palm Beach, Fla., Newport, R.I. and Pittsburgh, a preservation foundation completely independent of local government formulates and advocates policy. Yes, a mayor and city commissioners weigh in later with a final determination, but in Winter Park historic preservation dies in a committee before it can even see the light of day. That's not an accident. Check your calendars to see the date you first heard about the Capen House. And nothing has improved in how many months? Living in a historic house doesn't negate the need to execute on behalf of the entire Winter Park community, who did not move here to lose what attracted them to our town in the first place. Sorry, Commissioner Sprinkel. you haven't walked your talk. Why else would your close friend feel the need to run against you?

We need a preservation foundation of Winter Park that is not beholden to government and bought and paid for by deep-pocketed overdevelopment interests. Yes, we saved the Capen House, but government inaction on historic preservation guarantees that we'll be having to raise hundreds of thousands to save another house before too long.

Now is the time for Capen House donors to insist that a room in the Capen House be designated the temporary headquarters of The Preservation Foundation of Winter Park. Donors have currency to spend that has a very limited shelf life.

Do you really think that anyone is going to designate that room in the Capen House after all of the Capen House funds have been raised?

Well, do you?

— Will Graves


Friends of Winter Park