Warr: Library eyesore & threat to public safety

By WLOX Staff

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr doesn't think too much of a plan that would let the hurricane damaged library building downtown sit "as is" for a year or more.  Warr released a statement today responding to a decision by the Harrison County Board of Supervisors and FEMA. The decision gives citizens groups interested in restoring the old building an opportunity to seek proposals from developers and find funding sources.

A developer would then have to lease the building from the county and agree to take on all costs.

"For too long this building has sat in our downtown as an eyesore and a threat to public safety, and numerous times my administration has made our position loud and clear.  The debate over the future of the old library building began nearly two years ago, and to my knowledge, a developer has yet to step forward with a plan to accept all costs and restore the facility," Warr said.

Katrina destroyed the beachfront library building which supporters have been trying to save from the wrecking ball.  FEMA will pay for a new library, but not one located in the path of a future storm.

"This situation, for a long time, has called for swift, bold and courageous action from elected leaders serving at all levels of government," Warr said. "This week's decision means the people of Gulfport must wait at least another year before a final resolution is reached."

Despite the controversy, Warr had praise for the civic groups pushing to save the library for their passion and ideas.

"The ideas for the building being floated by citizens groups are good ones, and we thank them for their efforts and admire their passion, but the question remains whether a developer would be willing to invest in such a project - especially in today's economic climate," Warr said.

FEMA has agreed to reimburse the count up to $250,000 to demolish the old structure. This most recent decision is not expected to delay the FEMA-funded construction of two new libraries in Gulfport; one downtown and another in Orange Grove.

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