“We’re thrilled,” said Pat Demotte, president of the Pell City Library Guild Inc. “It’s a huge space. It will finally give the library room enough to do the things they want to do. …We are so excited to be over here.”
Library director Danny Stewart gave groups tours of the spaces the public library is expected to occupy, once city officials finalize the sales contract for the building.
“It’s amazing,” Stewart told one group that toured the facility Tuesday morning during the Greater Pell City Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, which was hosted by the Library Guild. “The building gets a huge amount of natural light.
Demotte thanked the mayor, City Council and city manager for bringing this project forward, and those who were in attendance appeared to like what they saw Tuesday.
“I like it,” said Fran Wilson. “I think it’s going to be great. I like the location, too. It’s a big step-up for the library.”
She said the old library has served the city well, but it is time for a new library.
Officials say the city has out-grown the old library, next to City Hall. The CenturyLink building is on the corner of U.S. 231 and Bruce Ethridge Drive.
“I love the whole building,” said Pell City resident Holland Powell. “It’s just perfect.”
He said the 53,000 square-feet facility can house many city offices, not just the public library.
“I can’t think of anything negative, and the price is right,” Powell said. “We could never build something like this for what we can buy this building for.”
City officials said the building was appraised for $4.5 million when the council considered purchasing the facility in 2011, but decided the city could not afford to buy the building at that time.
Those who were at Tuesday’s chamber breakfast were keeping their fingers cross that the city council would approved the final sales agreement at next Monday night’s council meeting.
City manager Patrick Draper said he will present the sales contract for the purchase of the CenturyLink building to the council at Thursday’s 4 p.m. work session.
The Pell City Board of Education, which initially wanted to partner with the city to buy the CenturyLink building, opted instead to buy the former Department of Human Resources building off Dr. John Haynes Drive after the city only offered a lease agreement to the BOE.
The St. Clair County Commission, which owes the former DHR building, approved last week to sale the facility. The former DHR building has remained vacant since an arsonist set fire to the facility in 2009. The County Commission approved the sale to the BOE for $125,000.
Draper had encouraged the council to partner with the BOE to purchase the CenturyLink building, but some members of the council questioned the possible dual-ownership of one facility.
“We’re in a financial position to purchase this building with or without the BOE (Pell City Board of Education),” Draper said Tuesday morning. “It’s not going to be a road block for us.”
Stewart said supporters of the library have worked for more than a decade to find a suitable facility for a new, bigger, public library, and members of the Library Guild are encouraged that a new public library is close to becoming a reality.
“I really want it to happen,” Powell said. “I hope the city fathers will buy it.”
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com.