Dothan City Commissioners Go Back and Forth on Proposed New Library

By: Ryan Rodig Email
By: Ryan Rodig Email

How do we pay for it? Where should we put it? What should be included inside of it?

All these questions were discussed Wednesday, as Dothan City Commissioners gathered for a public work session at the Wiregrass Museum of Art.

"Six months ago, in my mind this library was a given," Mayor Pat Thomas said. "Today with the economy, nothing is a given."

That wasn't the confidence new library supporters were looking for when they packed the meeting room Wednesday afternoon.

"We don't know if we are in the beginning of this recession, the middle, or the end," District 3 Commissioner Paul Lee Said.

District 6 Commissioner Keith Seagle says he would like to see this project put ahead of other capital improvement projects recently approved by the Commission.

"It it was up to Keith Seagle to set priorities, a new library would be put ahead of the money we are talking about for the new ball fields, Seagle said. "But maybe not ahead of Fortner-Honeysuckle improvements."

Many ideas were bounced around. Some called for the possibility of having a downtown library branch, and one on the west side of the city. Multiple commissioners suggested a policy of matching or doubling any money raised privately. And Mayor Thomas says the city may be able to donate $6 million one year, and another $6 million the next.

District 4 Commissioner John Craig wanted to know why the county wasn't being asked to give more.

"It's called the Houston Love Library isn't it?," Craig responded. "I don't see why the city is being burdened totally."

Houston Love Memorial Library Director Bettye Forbus says she is eager to move forward but understands concerns.

"I do feel positive that all commissioners made positive comments about supporting our new library," Forbus said. "It's just a concern for paying for it, which we should all have the same concern."

Forbus says the "passive" campaign has led to 200 different donors contributing. for a new library. She says the library does not have money to hold a large fundraiser.

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