Anyone who saw in the most recent election the opportunity for resolution regarding the library and its future location may be disappointed. Discussion at the March 28 Commission meeting seemed to indicate that the Commissioners have a ways to go before they find themselves singing from the same page.
Seidel and Leary Disagree on Location
Commissioner Greg Seidel stated his preference for the library to remain in the downtown core of the City. Mayor Steve Leary was emphatic in his preference for the Rachel Murrah Civic Center site in Martin Luther King, Jr., Park.
Sprinkel and Cooper Looking for a Plan
Commissioners Sarah Sprinkel and Carolyn Cooper acknowledged the plan for this facility is still in its infancy and will require further lengthy discussion. This part of the process will probably move right along, however, since the Request for Qualification (RFQ) for an architectural design firm was issued on March 16, the day following the election. Submissions are due April 21.
Referendum Language a Problem
A major sticking point seemed to be the bond referendum language that was on the March 15 ballot, which did not mention the intended library site. In a spirited exchange with Commissioner Cooper, Mayor Leary observed that everyone knew the recommended site was in MLK Park, and that to even discuss deviating from that plan would “fail the smell test,” amounting to “bait and switch” for the voters. Cooper reminded Leary that when she had moved to specify the location in the referendum language, the Commission had withheld its support.
City Attorney: ‘You Can Sue’
City Attorney Kurt Ardaman articulated the means by which the City could deviate from the MLK Park site by filing a bond validation lawsuit. Ardaman explained that while the referendum wording does not irrevocably tie the project to a location, it does dictate the shape of the project. Because of the referendum language, the City must build a combination library/civic center/parking garage – wherever they build it.
The Commissioners agreed to continue the discussion at the April 11 Commission meeting.
Disposal of Library Property?
The April 11 agenda will include the matter of naming rights, which will accrue to citizens who donate money to the library to fulfill the Library Board of Trustees’ obligation to raise $2.5 Million toward construction costs. The other item on that agenda, sure to inspire some spirited dialogue from the dais, will be the disposition of the current library property.