Though the location of the property in question has not been disclosed, it is reportedly a two-story, 9,200-square-foot vacant building that was built in 2006. According to members of the Library Advisory Board, the building will meet the city’s immediate library needs and has been checked by engineers and architects to ensure it will support the weight on its second floor that would be necessary for the board’s plans. The building is also ready to be moved into with little or no renovation.
“We could move in tomorrow and that building would be ready,” Library Advisory Board Member Clint Chance said. “We’ve done due diligence and the board is in complete agreement that this is by far and away the best choice. It is the most economical and its suits the needs of the current situation we’re in to house our expansion and it is an investment opportunity for the city.”
The board has done exhaustive research on four buildings in town that were proposed as possible library spaces, but has twice come to the conclusion that the building in question is the right choice and presented their findings to the council. As part of Tuesday’s presentation, Chance was joined by a commercial real estate expert speak to the benefits of the building for a library and its value.”
“It’s the cheapest, it’s the most valuable and it’s ready to move in. It’s like it’s a gift laid in your lap,” Chance said.
Chance was frustrated that after his presentation that no questions were asked by the council about the information he presented about the building before the council decided to take no action.
“When the police chief or the Recreation Department comes up there their budget has already been approved, but (the council) asks multiple questions about something that is $7,000, $10,000 or $5,000 and we want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new library that everybody is in agreement we need and there isn’t the first question to ask,” Chance said.
“If we’re the ones who are doing all the work and know all the information, I would think you’d want to meet with your board. They’re the ones who raised their hands up there to vote us in. If you’re not going to heed the advice, if you’re not going to try to sort through the information from someone who you appointed to be on your board, what’s the point of our board existing period? That’s bad government because you’re making a decision without consulting the people you put in charge of finding out the information.”
The city has more than $750,000 that has been committed for a new library, which has long been a goal of Mayor J. Collins.
“I probably have as much passion about a new library as anyone,” Collins said. “I think the library has been underfunded for a long time and I think we need to look at how we allocate our resources and where we spend the money. My only concern about the property is I think we’d need to go in and do some things to make it exactly what we want. By just moving in, are we really meeting the needs we’re going to have to meet the next 10 or 15 years? I think if we purchase that building we’re going to look at doing some upgrades and renovations and not just be satisfied with making a move that would be what I call a temporary fix. The building is a great deal and would be a great asset to the city and I wouldn’t want to see us pass that by.”
Chance wasn’t the only member to voice frustration at the city’s inaction. Library Advisory Board Chair Julie Hall also addressed the council to state that even though it would be the board’s preference to build a new library, the building being proposed for purchase is the best option to meet the needs of the city’s library patrons at this time.
“The Villa Rica library is the busiest branch per square foot of the West Georgia Regional Library System, which will not come as a surprise to most of our visitors since it has been overcrowded for the past eight years,” Library Advisory Board Chair Julie Hall said. “If action is not taken and we are forced to await state funding for a new library, which is anticipated to be 10 years away, an entire generation of Villa Rica’s children will have grown up with inadequate access to library services. The council has already agreed to the funding of a new library; it simply needs to honor its previous commitment.”