MURRAY — The Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to proceed with a renovation and expansion plan for the library that would involve the construction of a new children’s library.
The plan was suggested by trustee Winfield Rose, who pitched a modified version of a previously discussed plan known as “Kennedy Option 2.” The case for the construction of a new facility in addition to the current building was to eliminate the need to relocate library operations during construction, potentially saving costs in terms of rental space. The desire to limit disruption to library services was also mentioned during previous meetings.
“We have looked at a number of options and met with (architect Chris) Cottongim and so forth, and we came up with what he had labeled Kenney Option II Standalone Children’s Library,” Rose said. “What I am proposing here is not that plan in total, but an adaptation of it. Meaning we would build a new children’s library on property now owned by CCPL, and located immediately behind what is known as the Higgins House.”
Rose said the main difference in the plan he was proposing was that the new library would be connected to the current building on the northwestern corner of the new building. Rose brought with him a draft of the proposed motion that was made into four separate motions during the meeting. Those were as follow:
• I move that we adopt and proceed to implement the plan originally known as the “5253 Kennedy Option #2” plan, meaning that we build a new children’s library on property now owned by the CCPL and located immediately behind what is known as the Higgins House, and, further, that the new children’s library be joined to the existing library building at the southeastern corner of the former and the northwestern corner of the latter.
• I further move that our attorney (Wes Sullenger) be requested to advise us on the proper legal procedures necessary to undertake this endeavor and report to us at our Sept. 10, 2019 meeting.
• I further move that our architect, Mr. Chris Cottongim (with the 5253 Design Group) be requested to prepare a preliminary plan for this project and to present it to us at our Sept. 10, 2019 meeting.
• I further propose that the CCPL Board of Trustees declare its intention to upgrade our existing facility to meet ADA and other appropriate standards while keeping it open and functioning as much as possible.
Rose made each motion, which were all seconded by trustee Joe Walker. During each vote, Walker and Rose cast the “yes” votes, with trustee Riley Ramsey casting the dissenting vote. Mark Kennedy was serving as the interim president of the board following the resignation of former board president Audrey Neal last week.
The decision was not well-received by some members of the audience Tuesday night, with many of those signing up for public comment espousing their disapproval for a new, separate facility. Bobby Martin, who was on a committee formed by Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes to explore alternatives for library expansion, voiced his disapproval of the Tuesday decision.
“It is difficult for me to put into words how disappointed I am that you have chosen to go forward with Kennedy Option 2 as amended for the renovation and expansion,” Martin said. “I understand your desire to not spend any more money than you have to; I understand your desire to not want to have the library moved to a different location for an extended period of time — both of those are worthy positions to take.”
Martin used an example of KY 80 being developed as a four-lane road instead of an enhanced two-lane road as originally had been intended.
“I think all of us are glad that it is a four-lane road now, and I think we are glad that it took the extra time and the extra cost to make it what it needed to be,” Martin said. “Many years ago when Calloway County decided to consolidate their high schools, a new facility was built ... I think they borrowed money to build that, on a long term basis. More recently, Murray High School has undergone extensive renovation; that facility was built in 1970 — the same year this library was built. They floated a bond issue to add on and renovate that facility.”
Martin offered the Calloway County Jail, the Calloway County Judicial Building, as well as the members of the audience who had borrowed money to build their own homes.
“I strongly urge you to reconsider the decision you made with the Kennedy Option 2 plan and go forward with the Essential Plus Plan that was adopted by the board of trustees 16 months ago,” he said.
Martin was joined by other critics of the plan the board planned to move forward with Tuesday. Some of those spoke to their desire for children to be able to explore beyond just the children’s section of the library, and other espoused the need for more space to accommodate adults as well. Others directly spoke to their lack of confidence in the board itself.
Kennedy spoke in defense of the board at the conclusion of the public comments Tuesday night.
“We looked at (other options); we are going to ask Mr. Cottongim to put a proposal together that he can put on that wall, like he did the other (options),” Kennedy said. “But to just blanketly condemn what we proposed here, without even seeing the particulars and the details and to accuse us of just being just four old, white men — I am sick and tired of that. I am a father, a grandfather, and great-grandfather, and I have used the library and taken my kids to the library all my life. We don’t deserve that.”
The board also announced that it would be taking applications for the board vacancy through Aug. 31. Those applications can be picked up at the library or found on the library’s website. n