Harrison Co. turns a page in its library history with new building - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Harrison County turns a page in its library history with new building

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Elizabeth Vowell – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – Gulfport readers will  soon trade sun and sand for shade and oak trees now that the Harrison County Library System has broken ground on a new facility. 

"You couldn't ask for a prettier piece of property to put a library on," said City Council member Libby Roland about the new site located on Old Highway 49. 

The new Orange Grove Public Library will replace the beach front Gulfport Library that was devastated in Hurricane Katrina. 

While the new facility has been in the works for five years, writing a new chapter wasn't easy.  Many residents objected to moving the library from the original property.

"There was as you know quite a controversy about coming back on the beach the library board and I position was initially right after the storm was that that's not a good place to put a library it's just too vulnerable," said HCLS Director Robert Lipscomb. 

"Yes, I'm sorry we're no longer down there with the view of the beach, but I think this is just as pretty if not better," said Roland. 

The new facility is on five acres of land in the Kenwood subdivision.  After some rezoning, Kenwood residents gave their suggestions which including expanding some walking trails and protecting some oak trees on the property. 

"It's wonderful for this neighborhood," said Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel. "Putting the walking trails with it is going to be a centerpiece."

In addition to walking trails, there are plans for a walking path along Old 49 to give local elementary kids easy library access as well. 

As for the old library building, though it won't be holding books Schloegel has high hopes of it becoming a community center. 

"There are some plans, we entered into an agreement with MEMA, FEMA, Friends of the Library, etc, we have some things we have to comply with I believe the city of Gulfport in the long run is going to end up with that building," explained Harrison County Supervisor Kim Savant. 

The construction cost is estimated to be around $11 million and will be paid for using FEMA funds and various grants. 

Construction will begin Monday.  The library is expected to be ready to lend out books in 14 months.     

Schloegel says he already has his first book lined up. 

"I might re-read Atlas Shrugged," said the mayor. 

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