Plans for new WM library moving forward
Multimillion-dollar facility will be anchor of East Broadway development
The final estimates for constructing the new city library were heard by West Memphis city council last week. The original plan called for a new facility using only money accumulated over the years through the special city library tax, but the final figure busted the bank. The library will look for funding in a special election called for by councilman Tracy Catt that would appropriate some of the new tax revenue generated by the expanded gaming at Southland. City Council voted for contracting Barnes & Brower of Memphis to begin the building project on the 500 block of East Broadway not to exceed $4.5 million.
City Treasurer Frank Martin said the project wound up costing $1.4 million more than the library had in its coffers.
“The Library fund has about $2.8 million on it,” said Martin. “The balance would be added to the election I will propose in November deciding how to pay the difference on that, Tilden Rodgers improvements, and Hightower Park. It’ll be a special election, just off the revenue from Southland.”
Martin had a back up plan should voters nix allocating new Southland revenue.
“I do, however, have a letter from Fidelity Bank promising to finance it should the voters turn it down.”
Decisions had been made to save some money on some of the building project. City officials and the library board trimmed $42,000 . Eliminating one roof cover board, changes in electrical gear and using an alternate plumbing contractor added up to the savings. The library will buy $265,000 of new furniture and fixtures.
Amenities library patrons would enjoy included a coffee bar and a copy center, meeting space and a view of Watershed across a plaza on the south side of the building. New books and a bigger bank of computers for web research were also in the plans too.
Martin told the budget commission in an earlier meeting that if voters turned down the plan to spend Southland money on the parkas and library that the money would move into the city general fund anyway.
Councilman Wayne Croom remembered the original plan to build the library for cash on hand.
“At one time talking about the library had the funding and would not have to rely on the city to fund the new building,” said Croom.
Martin had a detailed list beginning with the site preparation work on the north side of Broadway across from Masner Furniture and Watershed.
“For one thing the land purchase and demolition was $930,000,” said Martin.
City council representatives wondered if the extra money for the library would soon have the city adding new taxes to finish the project.
“This isn’t going to cost the tax payer anything?”
“No taxes,” replied Martin. “No increase at all.”
While no new taxes sounded good, councilman James Pulliaum wondered if the city was milking the cash cow too hard.
“We are looking at two park projects and the library
off of Southland,” said Councilman James Pulliaum. “We are counting on Southland to do a whole lot of things. Once the new 20 story hotel is built we will have train and add more police and fire. There are good things that come from Southland and there is some bad that goes with it too.”
In two separate items, city council approved designers for the Hightower Park/ Roberta Jackson neighborhood center remodel and granted permission to move ahead with library construction.