Gulfport library supporters: Leave public property in the "hands of the people"

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The "Save Our Library" stickers made a statement before anyone spoke a word at Thursday night's meeting.

"The downtown library building is very vital. It should not be torn down," Dorothy McClendon of Gulfport said.

"We the People," a group working to save the library, along with other community members spoke passionately about saving the beachfront library. Those who spoke said one of the proposed libraries, off Highway 49, won't meet the needs of the community.

"This dinky library won't be on a beautiful piece of property. It'll be next to where criminals and sex offenders come in and out. We should not stand for a place like this for our children," Marianne Barkley said.

Some are upset because plans call for a justice court to sit on the same property as the library. In addition, many who spoke out say the new library will be too small.

But, a library official on the panel countered saying the "dinky" new library, as some were calling it, will have adequate space with some 10,000 square feet.

Many points were raised during the public hearing. But some people, like Marianne Barkley, went back to one basic point.

"We must always say no to taking public property out of the hands of the people."

The panel of officials at the local, state and federal level answered questions throughout the hearing.

Harrison County now owns the land, and supervisors says they are working on a compromise. For one year, the county will allow anyone to come forward with a lease plan for the property, but it must be for public use. If no one comes forward within a year, the building will be torn down.

There will be another public meeting in the coming weeks.

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