Dozens of city and county officials and citizens packed the meeting room at Harvey Helm Library Monday, many of them standing, several pleading with the board to reconsider applying for a $250,000 grant to help pay for a new library in the downtown "Renaissance area." Later in the meeting and right before the board voted to take the option on the Lair property, Gladys Burnside made a motion to reapply for the grant, but it died for a lack of a second.
Mayor urges board to apply for grant
Stanford Mayor Eddie Carter said the city has spent millions in revitalizing downtown and urged board members to apply for the grant.
"We lost the post office; the library is important to downtown," he said. Carter told the board that hundreds of people visit Stanford every year to check their family records. "Every year they ask, where is the library?"
Linda Closson echoed that in saying that people often spend more than one day doing research, and the library needs to be in close proximity to the courthouse.
"The library is second only to the courthouse in the heart of a city," a man in the audience spoke out.
Attorney Darryl Day, who is a non-voting member of the library board, said applying for the grant will not commit the board to building in the Renaissance area of downtown Stanford. "If we decide not to use it, we just send it back," he said.
The Stanford City Council also has the power to change the Renaissance boundaries, Mayor Carter said.
State consultant offers advice
The board received some advice from Chris Bischoff, state library construction consultant. Bischoff said it will cost about $125 to $160 per square foot to build a library, including the cost of land, construction and architect's fees.
"Building a library is going to be expensive," he said. He estimated the new library will cost approximately $1.25 million. "Even if you get the grant, you are still a million dollars short," he said. He told the board that there is no realistic plan on where that million is going to come from.
Carter said because Stanford is a Silver Renaissance City, there will be more money available, even if the $250,000 comes its way. "This is not just a one shot deal," he said.
Lincoln County Judge-Executive R.W. "Buckwheat" Gilbert said he would do all he could to help the library board seek grant money, regardless of where the facility is located. "Not a week goes by that I don't apply for a grant," he said.
"I guarantee we will get the money to build this library," he promised.