GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - There's new hope for those who've been fighting to save the old Gulfport library building. Harrison County supervisors received new information from FEMA Monday, which may impact the future of that landmark.
In the words of Board President Marlin Ladner, "We've been operating on a false assumption."
"This issue of the library building has been discussed, argued, fought over. In the past years, several concerned citizens have tried every avenue to save this building," said Betty Bittner, who was the first of two library supporters to address the board of supervisors at Monday morning's meeting.
And those citizens remain determined to save the building they see as a treasured landmark. They'd like the county to give it to the City of Gulfport for future public use.
"We would like for it to be a visitors center, a welcome center, open space for people. A meeting place and things like that," said library supporter Mary Anne Barkley.
Gulfport has twice submitted proposals to acquire the old library.
"This board would love for the City of Gulfport to be able to take the building back, without threat of cost to the county or the city," said board attorney Tim Holleman.
Harrison County has been under the impression that giving the library to Gulfport would leave the county liable for paying $2.8 million to FEMA; the cost of relocating the old library headquarters to Orange Grove.
Monday morning they were shocked when a FEMA representative cleared-up that question.
"Once you close that project, we're out of it. And we've had several meetings where we thought we had clarified that issue several years ago," said FEMA representative Randy Walker.
It appears there was a miscommunication, or at least misunderstanding.
As for the supervisors, they're anxious to settle the library debate.
"We're at a point now, like I said at one time, this crying baby, so to speak, has to be put to sleep. One way or the other," said Ladner.
Supervisors voted to proceed with closing out the FEMA projects that involve the library. They also requested to receive, in writing, the assurances they were given by the FEMA representative.
So, at least for now, the future of the old library remains "on hold."