Former Gulfport Mayors Join Library Campaign

GULFPORT (WLOX)-- Two former Gulfport mayors are joining the effort to try and save the downtown library.

"Structurally, it has withstood two of our greatest hurricanes: Camille and Katrina. And I think that it can be repaired," said former Mayor Leroy Urie, as he surveyed the site.

He was involved in earlier efforts to preserve Jones Park and feels just as strongly about saving the library, which was built on land donated by the Jones family.

"To restore the upper section back as a library and the downstairs as a community center would fulfill both parts of the deeds that were first initiated on this property by the heirs," said Urie, who also spoke at Tuesday's city council meeting.

Another former mayor also shared his concerns with the Gulfport City Council Tuesday.

"That library and that area on the beach, we need that to be a unique place. And I think with your help and with the help of these citizens, we can save that and turn it into a great place," former mayor Bob Short told the council.

With two former mayors now speaking out to save this library building, WLOX News wanted to hear from Gulfport's current mayor.

Mayor Brent Warr declined our invitation to comment on camera, but the mayor has already officially spoken through a city resolution. That resolution is the quit claim deed which transfers ownership of the library land from the City of Gulfport to Harrison County.

Among other things, the resolution says it is not prudent or in the public interest to rebuild a library at the current site. It also says the county shall tear down the storm damaged building.

Leroy Urie expects the fight to save it will continue until the wrecking ball falls.

"Absolutely. What a shame, as I call it, to put the axe to this building. And what a beautiful structure," he said.

Harrison County has already advertised for bids to demolish the library building. The bids will be opened on April 8th.