Advertisement
  1. News

Library now bears the name of its driving force: Maureen B. Gauzza

The former Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library in Northwest Hillsborough County has officially been renamed ‘The Maureen B. Gauzza Library.’
Published Sep. 19, 2017

WESTCHASE — The former Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library in Northwest Hillsborough County has officially been renamed "Maureen B. Gauzza Library.''

It's a salute to the focused and persuasive woman who made it her tireless cause to get the library approved, built and expanded.

Gauzza died on July 3 after a lengthy illness. She was 75. But her legacy lives on through the library, which has become a Westchase community cornerstone.

"The whole time we were working on the project, I kept saying, 'Maureen, this library needs to be named after you,'" said Gauzza's longtime friend, Rama Patterson, who teamed with her on a grassroots committee to drum up support. "She would laugh and say, 'Oh no, it's going to be the Upper Tampa Bay Library.'

"The truth is, we probably wouldn't have a library in this area had it not been for Maureen. She had the thought long before anyone else. She had the drive to keep on going until it actually happened. It's very fitting that it's now named for her. She was the driving force behind it.''

Following Gauzza's death, the wheels were set in motion to formally recognize her contributions.

At the July 19 Board of County Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Ken Hagan made the motion that the Hillsborough County Library Board consider the renaming of the library for Gauzza.

On July 27, the Library Board, a citizen's advocacy group, unanimously recommended the name change.

Hagan, whose first motion ever made was to fund and construct the original library, spoke at the Aug. 2 BOCC meeting. He read testimonial letters from Sol Fleischman, the library's architect, and Patterson. Hagan's final motion to rename the library was approved unanimously.

Two days later, it was shown as "The Maureen B. Gauzza Public Library'' on Hillsborough County's government Web sites. The library's revised signage was immediately put out for bid and it's expected to be completed this fall.

"Maureen was relentless,'' Hagan said. "She was a real bulldog. She truly cared about her community and what the library could provide.''

Hagan found out about Gauzza early on.

When Hagan first ran for county commissioner, he was going door-to-door with his father throughout Westchase. He found himself being welcomed into the Gauzza home and a relationship had begun.

Gauzza, who moved to Westchase in 1998, already had decided her new area needed a library. She was willing to marshal the volunteer forces and found a willing political ally in Hagan.

Largely through Gauzza's strategic, organizational and persuasive efforts, she led a group that helped establish the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library, which was dedicated in 2005, then expanded to 26,000 square feet nine years later.

What has the library meant?

It's where children could discover a love of reading. It's a place to learn new skills. It's a gathering facility for lectures, classes and study.

"It's everything to so many people,'' Patterson said. "It has been a blessing, over and over again. My husband and I volunteered for early voting. We would take our lunch and eat in the gazebo. I would always think, 'This was Maureen's dream and I'm enjoying it now.'

"She had so much vision for what she wanted the library to be. Everything from the design of it, the gazebo, the retail shop … it was just amazing to me. Her vision couldn't be stopped.''

Gauzza's husband, Charlie, said she would be particularly pleased with the revised name.

"It's known as a 'public library' and given the choice, that's how Maureen would want it,'' Charlie Gauzza said. "When this endeavor began, a few folks wanted to call it the Westchase Public Library. Maureen said, 'No, no, no … I don't want to name it that.' She wanted it to be very inclusive and very clear that it was an asset for all our communities.

"She wanted it to be used by Westchase, Fawn Ridge, Highland Park, Westwood Lakes, Waterchase, The Eagles, Twin Branch Acres … everyone in our area. That is what has happened. It is a great asset for Westchase and all of our communities.''

Charlie Gauzza said the family — daughter Sharon Gauzza Potts of Westchase, daughter Christine Harvey, son-in-law John Harvey of Highland Park, Texas, along with their six grandchildren, Justin, Jared, Julia, Christopher, Savannah and Alexandria — was appreciative of the library's name change.

"We have known all along how dedicated Maureen was to this cause,'' Charlie Gauzza said. "I think everyone in our family is deeply touched by this gesture of renaming the library in her honor. Her fingerprints can be found on pretty much everything in the library. Now that legacy will live forever."

Contact Joey Johnston at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. This 2016 photo was taken after three teens stole a Toyota Camry from a driver who was grabbing coffee at 7 a.m. and crashed it into a parked car about a block away. St. Petersburg police arrested three teens ages 15, 15, and 16. St. Petersburg Police Department
    Thieves like to target these models because it’s easier for them to sell them for parts.
  2. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times
A shot taken on June 4, 2019 during the 12-week demolition of the Harborview Center which began in April on the corner of Cleveland Street and Osceola Avenue in downtown Clearwater. The project is a key part of the city's roughly $64-million Imagine Clearwater waterfront redevelopment project. Will residents move downtown once it is done? DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    “It’s our biggest challenge,” one city official said.
  3. Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey.    (ALICE HERDEN | Special to the Times) Special to the Times
    Overhaul of the Gloria Swanson parking lot will expanding parking options downton.
  4. A federal jury in Tampa found Christopher Brian Cosimano, left, and Michael Dominick Mencher guilty in the Pasco County shooting death of a motorcycle club leader. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    Christopher “Durty” Cosimano and Michael “Pumpkin” Mencher were members of the 69′ers Motorcycle Club. Prosecutors said they were responsible for the rush-hour assassination of Paul Anderson, a...
  5. Hundreds of demonstrators protest a Trump administration announcement that reversed an Obama-era order allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identities, outside of The Stonewall Inn in New York, Feb. 23, 2017. Activists in the LGBTQ community mobilized a fast and fierce campaign on Oct. 21, 2018, to say transgender people cannot be expunged from society, in response to an unreleased Trump administration memo that proposes a strict definition of gender based on a person's genitalia at birth. [Times Files] YANA PASKOVA  |  NYT
    Local vigils will be held in Tampa on Nov. 20 to honor those who lost their lives due to violence against the transgender community.
  6. U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland talks about holding a cell phone to his ear as he talks with President Donald Trump as he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, during a public impeachment hearing of Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Gordon Sondland told House impeachment investigators he pushed a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine because it was what the President wanted.
  7. The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    Department of Education attorneys say the lower courts ruled properly in tossing the case.
  8. Bob Larson, 81, from St. Petersburg, raises his hand to indicate he has a match while playing Bingo during a meal with fellow seniors in Langer Hall at the Sunshine Senior Center in St. Petersburg. Also present (but not pictured) is his wife, Janet Larson, 74. The Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas funds 15 congregate dining sites in Pinellas and Pasco counties. The sites offer hot meals and socialization for 6,000 seniors. The Sunshine Center is one of those sites. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Seniors are happy in their communities, but have concerns about health care, housing, transportation and support for caregivers
  9. Scott Purcell, a senior geophysicist with GeoView, left, and Mike Wightman, president of GeoView use ground penetrating radar technology to scan a portion of King High campus in search for Ridgewood Cemetery in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, October 23, 2019.  OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The mid-20th century Ridgewood Cemetery for the indigent and unknown was located on property later used to develop King High.
  10. Authorities say Rocky Ali Beamon strangled and stabbed 27-year-old Nicholas Anderson in January 2017 when they shared a cell at the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton. Florida Department of Corrections
    Rocky Ali Beamon previously had been sentenced to life in prison for a 2005 murder in Hillsborough County.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement