My father taught me, when I was a young man, that sentimentalism many times blocks the way to good reasoning, and good decisions always must be done by using the brains, not the heart. We are talking about the city taking back the Depot Museum as requested.
I started by saying is totally true that today is the day because there was a past. However, when sentiments get in the way, dominate conduct by blocking the way to good reasoning, then it is time to put sentiments away and look at reality. In other words “when a man is drowning, do not offer him a steak, get him a life jacket.” Logic is the science of reasoning. That is precisely what we are talking about in the case of our Depot Museum.
I explain: Depot Museum was granted to the City of Lake Wales in Dec. 26, 1975, by Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Company. City’ acquisition of the “premises,” the areas close to the rails, took place on July 19, 1995, via lease from Florida Midland Railroad Company. The city promised the upkeep of these areas within city limits, assumed expenses for it. The city can get away from such expenses by simply giving 30 days notice.
What is not being said is the fact that the Depot Museum has never been profitable, it has been a drag to our economy. The good people that generously help us citizens by running the Depot Museum are to be commended. If the Depot Museum is returned to the city, factually and legally, the city will have to assume the operating costs. Somehow these good people are not talking about the costs of running the enterprise. Is it that these good people want us to go back to a nonprofit able enterprise? Is it that these good people want us to go back to paying the exorbitant monies we spent before? It is not about history, or the preservation of the history of the city.
It is about the ridiculous amounts of monies that were uselessly spent in the name of history and pride. It is about a failed, unprofitable enterprise that was draining our coffers, it is about the fact the Depot Museum was given to the historic Lake Wales Society “as is” 2 years ago because the city could not afford the operating costs, it is because of the fact people telling our work force to tighten up their belts, to economize, it is because the thought to reduce the workforce was tended, it is because of monies in these times of need, should not be used in unprofitable enterprises, it is about increasing our savings, it is about the stopping giving work to people while using monies to pay for unprofitable operations. What is crass is the fact some people, knowing our economic conditions, still prefer paying for failing enterprises rather than use the monies putting food on the table for the hungry. Use of monies in these “jewels”, when in reality they are “drags” to our economy, should be curtailed. The “defenders” of the old buildings can tell you about the “captive audiences” that are taken to the Depot Museum. They do not tell us how much the drag to our economy transferring the Depot Museum to us.
I did some homework — I still do homework at age 78 — and now I can tell Lake Wales the economic facts involving the Depot Museum. I include figures obtained comprising last nine (9) years of Depot Museum annual costs: FY 2002-03=$105,009.34; FY 2003-04=$126,637.33; FY 2004-05=$106,775.05; FY 2005-06 $137,421.75; FY 2006-07=$171,795.15; FY 2007-08= $124,509.10; FY 2008-09= $81,180.98; FY 2009-10=$72,384.09; FY 2010-11=$28,664.38; FY 2-011-12=$2,365.
If we add all of these annual costs for the last nine years we come to the total cost figure of $956,742.75. The average cost per year of our Depot Museum for the last nine years is $106,304.75. This is why the Depot Museum can not be taken back by the city, we can not go back to past monetary excesses. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, we have pride in our old buildings, the difference is our old buildings pay for themselves, are not failing enterprises. This problem is not a matter of pride, it is a matter of hunger, unemployment, Christian principles of taking care of people in need first.
When the enterprise is not sustainable a course of action could be closing of same, minimal maintenance executed, wait until the financial situation stabilizes, and try again.
We all should learn from the past. This is my Lake Wales, I have been here 19 years, and intend to die here. I defend the people in need first, the poor, sentimental causes come later. We can not go back to ridiculous expenses by the city on failing ventures. People can not eat buildings, they eat food. Create jobs and avast the pilfering of our treasury in sterile, non-productive enterprises.
Let us place the matter of the city taking back the Depot Museum in referendum, in that way we have an answer form the sovereign, the citizens of Lake Wales.
Manuel V. CrespoLake Wales