Stanford library board still in quandary over future location

June 23, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Two of four potential locations for a larger Harvey Helm Memorial Library were turned down by the library board Tuesday where the key word was frustration.

Despite potential progress in narrowing down the search for a new, expanded home, many citizens attending expressed frustration at the plodding advancements of the library board.

"Why haven't you accepted the property yet?" "It's frustrating," "Who's going to give us money if we don't take this gift?" "I think everybody should be able to vote on it," were commonly mumbled during the meeting.

After declining to buy property offered on Danville Avenue due to minimal road frontage, and another acre offered by the Lair family declined was due to the interceding flood plain, the board still holds two cards. One is their ace in the hole, say citizens, and it is time to draw.


A gift of two acres of property that was offered to the board still stands, and was sweetened previously this month by a $50,000 bonus, offered by Dr. Naren James on the condition the board accept the property. The land, valued at $300,000 was offered by First Southern National Bank, its president Jess Correll and wife, Angela, and an anonymous third party, and would locate the new library downtown behind the bank.

A second possible lot is located outside city limits off U.S. 150 beside PBK Bank. The board's option on this land runs out at the end of the month, but the property has drawn criticism as being to inconvenient for patrons and genealogists researching court and family documents.

While it has been questioned, the free lot has enough room for the needed size of a new building, said Chris Bischoff, state library construction consultant, in a letter to Chairwoman Betty Simpson.

In 20 years, the library will need a square footage of 19,000 feet to best benefit the projected population of the county.

Bischoff also recommended that the board hire a licensed architect to inspect both lots for potential fit of the large building.

It was at first thought to be too small for a library that could adequately serve the community in 20 years, said Annabel Kellam, board secretary. The slope of the land, which could become a dangerous fall for a patron also is a concern. Much repeated as a strike against the land offer was the concern over lack of parking space.

During Tuesday's meeting, however, those reasons seemed less substantiated and more questioned by city and county officials. They were ready for the board to play their hand.

"I get a lot of phone calls. I've not had one phone call that doesn't want the library built right here," said county Judge-Executive Buckwheat Gilbert "... I want you to know something, and I had no part in this, but 99 percent of the phone calls I've taken are for putting the library downtown."

Stanford Mayor Eddie Carter voiced encouragement for a downtown location.

"I think it's fair," he said of the future architectural study," Carter said.

"It just goes with the courthouse," he said of the possible downtown site. Visiting genealogists often use the library in tandem with courthouse documents when piecing together family trees.

The motion to instigate an architectural study of both land options was met by a four to one approval by the board.

Dissenting member Barthenia Brown said she wanted to just accept the land, and stop putting off the decision.

"I''m afraid we won't have any money if we don't take that property," said Brown of the $350,000 package offer. "I mean, who's going to give us $350,000?"

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