"How can we save the library from being torn down? To tear down a public building used by the citizens and sell the land to a private developer is wrong ... Without the public voting and or at least understanding what the city council is planning behind closed doors... Save the public library is what my grandkids are asking me to help them do. My youngest made signs, started a Facebook page, and is going door to door for signatures... Ron are we too late?"
Significant in the above comment was the interest of the grandkids. It was not concern of the millions of dollars that was given to the developer. It was not the free land. It was not the costs associated with the move. Frankly, it was much more noble. It was simply, "my library." Without verbalizing, it was recognized as the seat of learning. It is a place where information is accumulated, sorted, and stored for their use. It is there when it is needed. An intelligent young mind recognizes that the information needed for ascending to intelligent adulthood is there for the taking. Without being told, the young intelligent mind thinks, "it is mine." What could be better than walking into a library that has one of my favorite American authors and satirists sitting right outside? Of course, that would be Mark Twain. Mark Twain and Will Rogers could keep me occupied for hours with their wit.
To answer the question, "Is it too late?" The answer is probably a "kinda yes." Could a move be mounted to challenge the vote with a restraining order? Probably, but it would be temporary and only slow the inevitable. This would probably involve a complaint filed with the Attorney General, and/or seek out a lawyer willing to file a request for a restraining order. Of course, the charge would allege that the citizens were prevented from viewing or participating in the discourse regarding the entire The Villages discussion. On this point, we probably agree.
Notwithstanding the legitimate love of the library by all age groups, let's take a look at the practicalities. No sugar coating......no proprietary emotions.
A library is a function, not a building. A well functioning library, with all it's information, services, and personnel is a delight for any community. It is a place where self motivated learning flourishes and whereby both young and older minds expand their limits. A well functioning library is something that any community should be proud to have. It is unfortunate that many communities don't have such a learning center. A well functioning and well managed library can serve the community from a circus tent. Is it ideal? Of course not. But, if only temporary, the content can survive. It's like your favorite fruit in a can. You open it, enjoy the fruit, and throw the can away.
But, let's look at our can. It's functional, probably practical, not too old, but hardly awe inspiring. The best thing about the facility is Mark Twain guarding the entrance. To me, the building looks like it was designed by a cost conscious bureaucrat. It looks like a brick with doors.
When I think of the many libraries I have been in, I think of the stately buildings with two concrete lions guarding the front door. I'm not sure the lions are necessary, but the library buildings usually have an air of stability about them. They seem to say, "no matter what, I'll be here." If there is going to be a new library, stability and integrity, with or without the lions, is what I want it to look like. I don't want a brick with windows.
So, where are we now? Well, it seems we're laboring over where to temporarily locate the library. I would think that that problem should have been addressed a long time ago........well before the council gave the land and building away. It would appear that it was not the case. Man, I don't even want to go there. I'll be on this page until tomorrow if I get started on how poor the planning would have to be in making that mistake. Its the same as selling your house before having another place to live. It would appear that we are going to pay for some massive rehab expenses to get the proposed building suitable for temporary quarters for the library. We have consultants to help us........at a percentage of the contract fee, of course. The higher the cost, the more money they make. Then, we rent space from the new owners of what was our previously owned library land and building for a period of two years while waiting for a new library to be built. Now, a big question........do you honestly think we could have a new permanent library in the two year period from vacating our current building? If so, I have a bridge in New York I'd like to sell you. I fear it's going to take much longer. Rowlett "officialdom" seems to be interested in keeping discussion down to a minimum by not keeping the public informed. Listening to the public's thoughts is a pain in the neck, and I know you can't please everyone, but "officialdom's" insistence on avoiding public discussion and hiding in a "privileged" meeting has created a circular firing squad. "Officialdom" keeps shooting each other with bad or poorly analyzed information and ending up in a mess.
Nancy, I am 100% in support of your grandkids in preserving the integrity of our library. On the building itself, I am not so emotional. However, I will fight to the death anyone that puts one scratch on the Mark Twain sculpture. I would not mind having a new, permanent, and noble appearing library, however I worry about the management and oversight of such a maneuver. I'm afraid we are going to end up with another brick.......or a circus tent. Of course, none of this has anything to do with my views on The Villages. Those views are different, and more cost/financial oriented.
When I think about the miscues on North Shore, the land give-a-ways downtown, the tax abatements, and then the library relocation issues, all I see is a quagmire. All of this might be presided over by the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Remember, elections are in eighteen months.