Hamilton-Wollin Adamant - No Library Planned in IRB
by Leo Coughlin
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - In the face of what seems burgeoning ideas for a new library in Indian Rocks Beach, Commissioner Terry Hamilton-Wollin has strongly reassured those who are in doubt that there are definitely no plans to build a new library.
"So offering a referendum on building one would be premature and ridiculous," she says. "It is a non-issue."
But Hamilton-Wollin does recognize that the existing library is "bursting at the seams," and that the daily visits of residents "have grown to such an extent that the space now occupied is no longer sufficient."
To some observers that seems to be saying that "the baby's shoes are a little tight, but she doesn't need new ones."
Those who look at the library situation objectively fear that the city will get burdened with an ever-growing library, with ever-growing expense, every-growing expanse of employees, etc.
Hamilton-Wollin's description of the current use seems to fulfill this formula.
In addition to citing the expansion and popularity of the library function among residents, Hamilton-Wollin also points out that "If we are to add to existing space and take advantage of the various 'bricks and mortar grants' available to assist with the cost, we must have a full-time, master's degreed librarian."
That evidently is accomplished in the budget that the City Commission just finished signing off on. It includes an outlay of $60,000 for a full-time librarian.
The first term commissioner points out that Florida law requires a fully credentialed librarian.
Hamilton-Wollin also cites "a long-ago commission" that decided that building a new library was one possibility and consequently money was put into a five-year plan against that eventuality.
"Every year when the five-year plan comes up for revision the funds are moved back to future years, and this year we cut the future funding in half," Hamilton-Wollin said.
At the same time, she notes, that no money was budgeted for fiscal year 2008 for either library expansion or a library building.
A committee was formed a few years ago to study and make recommendations on library expansion and a possible new building. Hamilton-Wollin was on the committee and she says "options were carefully researched."
"The overwhelming recommendation was to stay where the library now is (actually, part of the city hall building) and expand into the adjacent parking lot," Hamilton-Wollin said.
She emphasized that the building of a library is "not on anyone's drawing board."
But the question remains, if it does get on a drawing board and there is sentiment for and a move toward a new library, will the taxpayers get to have the say on spending the money?
They didn't in Largo, but Largo had greater resources, including a good chunk of money from Penny for Pinellas which is paying for the bulk of the Largo building.
Those who oppose a big, new library in Indian Rocks Beach point out the easy availability and accessibility of state of the art libraries in Largo and Clearwater.
Some say a new library in Indian Rocks Beach would be a "white elephant," an eater of taxpayer funds in an every growing manner as the years went by.
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