MURRAY — The Calloway County Library Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to move forward with the most recent proposal from the 5253 Design Group in regard to library expansion.
The decision came after many months of deliberation among the board on the best route forward for expansion. This included looking at an alternative building located downtown in Murray, as well as the potential construction of a standalone children’s library.
The plan, which was presented to the board during last month’s meeting by 5253 architect Chris Cottongim, will feature the construction of a new children’s library along the north side of the current building that would later be connected through the current north wall. Cottongim said last month that he was able to rework the initial plan that was only partially connected to help with the issue of potential staffing.
“There are some good things about what we are trying to do with this,” Cottongim said in September. “The main thing we are trying to do is save the money from moving the library out during renovation; we are trying to save the money for rent, we are trying to save the money for any renovations of a temporary facility; those are good things.”
Members of the board and CCPL staff agreed that the plan was a compromise that could be made to suit the needs of CCPL staff and the community.
“I think it is a workable, doable plan,” said CCPL Director Mignon Reed. “Considering where we have come from, this is a great compromise and I think it will work for us.”
Interim board president Mark Kennedy echoed Reed’s sentiments.
“I think it is a great compromise,” Kennedy said. “It gives us the capability to expand incrementally so that we can buy as we go. We can afford the initial plan that was presented last time, and then if we want to do something like change the facade for the front, we can do that further down the line.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Constance Alexander said she was happy that the board had finally decided on a plan and was engaged in forward momentum, but she criticized the amount of time the board had taken in its deliberations.
“As much as it is a relief that we have reached some kind of decision ... compromises can be a good thing, but if you look at U.S. history, compromises have not always been a good thing,” Alexander said. “We wouldn’t have had to compromise to this extent if we hadn’t had all of the time that was wasted on a building that was never suitable for the library, and I feel really bad about that. I am glad we are going someplace, but we wasted a lot of time needlessly, and as a taxpayer I am disappointed in that.”
Trustee Winfield Rose responded to Alexander, saying he felt the time spent by the board was necessary to look at every option available, and cited the desire to not close the library for an extended period as one of the main reasons the board pursued other options.
“I do not think that that time was wasted,” Rose said. “The endeavor was legitimate, and as I made this clear, we were searching for a way to avoid closing the library for 12 to 18 months. I do not think that is a good idea. It would have necessitated not only closing the library, but laying off a number of staff persons; we don’t know how many, but it just wasn’t a good plan, and not a good idea. So we were searching for alternatives, and that is why we looked at that option.”
The board also took the time to recognize the passing of two former trustees: Ricky Lamkin and Joseph Walker.
“Joe passed away on Sunday evening, and Ricky passed away on Monday afternoon,” Kennedy said at the onset of the meeting. “Each of these men served this community and our country faithfully and honorably, always striving to do what was right as they saw it. We grieve along with their families and hope they will be long-remembered for the good they sowed on their journey on Earth.”
The board also welcomed the newest trustee, Deborah Bell, who fills the seat left vacant by former board president Audrey Neal.
“I am looking forward to this opportunity to serve on the board, and I am looking forward to us moving forward with plans and building,” she said. “If any of you all want to talk to me, feel free to call or email me.”
The board also took the opportunity to recognize Neal for her time serving on the board via a resolution.
Lastly, the board narrowed down the nominees for Joe Walker’s vacant seat. Those nominees were Vonnie Hays Adams and Maeve McCarthy. Their names will be forwarded to the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives before being sent to the Calloway County Fiscal Court.