Archived Story

Library land acquired

Published 9:19pm Monday, February 3, 2014

The city will pay a total of $1.6 million for the 10 properties needed to clear the way for a new downtown library.

Some of the properties on Lee Street and West Washington Street were transferred to the city last week. Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts said he expects the remaining properties to be acquired this week.

“It was a fair deal all around,” he said of the sales. “We’ve been glad to get the cooperation of the property owners. It’s rare you get to assemble an urban redevelopment site like that with willing sellers.”

The new library will sit between South and Lee streets, and the site will stretch west to the other side of Lee Street. The parcels the city will acquire include several residential rental properties and some commercial properties.

Roberts said the city will move immediately to demolish the buildings that are not historic. For the other buildings, the city will have to seek approval from the Historic Landmarks Commission to demolish them.

The city will temporarily re-use some of the commercial buildings that front on West Washington Street for parks operations that have outgrown their space at Peanut Park, Roberts said.

The city in December approved about $2 million in new debt to bankroll the acquisition of the properties.

City leaders say a new library is needed to replace the Morgan Memorial Library a couple of blocks to the west. It is a retrofitted furniture showroom and has outlived its usefulness, they say.

Roberts said the city is pleased with how quickly work on the project is moving along.

“We’re eager to get started on the master plan,” he said.

A partnership in the works with Paul D. Camp Community College would bring resources and classrooms to downtown, with possible future expansion to accommodate an entire campus. Amenities such as a café, local history museum and genealogy center also are planned.

The entire project is estimated to cost around $20 million, but the state would pay approximately $5 million for expenses associated with the community college.

  • So What

    Mostly Andy Damiani and his nephew… Thank you Peanutbred longtime commin on that reward.

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  • Savannah

    Gah, that’s expensive!!

    Okay, so here is my thing. I am a huge advocate of books. For me, reading has always been a means of freedom and fun I just didn’t get to experience through other means. Not much of toys and stuff like that my young years growing up and books..the library, heck, that was free! Anywho, all kids deserve a library, but not if their schools are not being funded!

    When I was in school, and I was always fortunate enough that I went to great schools, our library’s rocked and I never lacked for books. When I grew up and had kids, they always had books as well. Heck, they had a full Shel Silverstein shelf before they could say “what’s a giving tree, mommy?” By the time both of my children were in 5th grade, they’d read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. My daughter started reading Shakespearean tragedies for her own want of it in the summer of 6th grade. Now, all 3 of us keep our Nooks by our beds and “share” books back and Barnes and Noble gift cards all the time because who can really ever have enough books? Not us. Book addicts

    It’s hard for me to say no to this.. it is. Maybe I’ve gotten across how passionate I am about reading.. wink But if kids are suffering at school without what they need there, should that not come first? Teachers needing raises to teach our kids how to treasure the world of books? We need that too.

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    • thekytikat

      I love books too… but on top of this 2 million in new debt… the city will be spending $22 million to build the new library. That’s twice the cost of the new city hall.

      Let me say that again — it will cost the taxpayers of Suffolk $22,000,000 (Twenty-two million dollars) to build the library.

      22 million that we do NOT have. Be ready to open up yer pocketbooks again Suffolk. Selena Cuffee-Glenn & the City Council need your money to fund their wish lists.

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      • Savannah

        Yeah, that’s just too much. Suffolk is seemingly ghetto rich, and that’s just ridiculous.

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  • thekytikat

    Let me get this straight — the city complained last April that they were too broke to fund the schools, and raised our property taxes to cover a small increase for the schools (abt 1/3rd what they wanted).

    Meanwhile, they took on 2million dollars more in debt in order to buy up land downtown – thus removing that land from the tax rolls.

    Odds are they find some way to work their magic & NOT raise taxes this year because it’s an election year for Parr & Brown. But I really hope and pray Suffolkians remember this nonsense come election 2014.

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    • So What

      sellers being who? when was the deal actually closed looking at the section here records its not user friendly as to chronological updates meaning if you don’t know or have have an idea, good luck for a timely response other than what you can put into it.its shush time again, sing as its crying time again but think open and transparent government yes it should be a requirement at the local level of corruption. none of this you need a foia. hell its real estate we are talking about here….

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