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Friday, Oct 19, 2018
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Another Name Is Offered For New Tampa Library

NEW TAMPA - A community effort to rename the New Tampa Regional Library for a local civic activist has gotten more complicated. A month after the New Tampa Community Council said it wanted to recognize Carol Poland of Hunter's Green for her contributions to the community, the Tampa City Council has submitted a letter announcing its preference. The city council has asked that the library be named for the late Jeri Zelinski, who is considered to have been the driving force behind the library project. She died in 2002. As the founding president of Friends of the New Tampa Regional Library, Zelinski was instrumental in prodding developers to donate land and petitioning the Hillsborough County Commission to have it built.
"I think of anybody, she deserves it most," said City Councilman Joseph Caetano, who rallied his council colleagues to approve the letter to honor Zelinski. She was "the mover and shaker to get the library," Caetano said. "She hounded me a long time about the library." Caetano, who was elected to the city council in 2007, was not in political office at the time. The councilman said his support to name the library for Zelinski does not diminish Poland's accomplishments. He described Poland as "a wonderful woman" who has been mostly dedicated to improving Hunter's Green. Frank Margarella, president of the New Tampa Community Council, said the library board charged with recommending the library name change has a tough decision to make. "I worked very closely with Jeri," Margarella said. "She has the reading room at the library named for her already." He was referring to the Jeri Zelinski Community Room, which was dedicated at the regional library, 10001 Cross Creek Blvd., in 2004. The regional library is a 25,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building that opened in May 1997. The community room is a popular meeting place for clubs, civic groups and homeowners associations. Margarella said he still believes Poland is worthy of having the library named in her honor. "She has done so much for the community," he said. Poland organized the first neighborhood watch in Hunter's Green and helped launch the Taste of New Tampa and the Hunter's Green Health and Safety Expo. She volunteers at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church and organizes monthly ice cream parties for patients in the polytrauma unit at the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital. Poland said Thursday that she had not heard about the city council's efforts. "I'm surprised I haven't received a phone call from Mr. Caetano or someone," she said. Caetano and Margarella, the two key players in the bid to rename the library for a neighborhood activist, have a history as political rivals. They faced off last year to fill the north Tampa city council seat vacated by Shawn Harrison because of term limits. Both men have a long history of civic involvement in New Tampa. Joe Stines, director of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System, said it's an unusual request to change the name of a library. The library board will review its guidelines to determine how to proceed. The issue goes to the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library board's bylaws committee, which will do research on the nominees and hold a public hearing. Stines said he will recommend that the hearing be held in New Tampa. The library board will submit its recommendation to the county commission, which will have the final say.

Reporter Kenneth Knight can be reached at (813) 865-4842 or [email protected]

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