Gulfport Leaders Stand By Decision To Move Library North

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- The fate of the Gulfport Public Library is causing tension between local leaders and residents. Many people are outraged over plans to relocate the library and tear down the current beach front building. However, city and county officials said Monday night they are standing by the decision, and want residents to trust their plans.

"Why would we tear down a building like that?" on resident asked after Monday night's council workshop.

It's a question that's been asked over and over again by a group wanting to save the library.

"If the library comes down, there is not one piece of public property left on the whole front of Gulfport," said another resident.

Members of the group "We the People" want the city to forget about moving the library to Orange Grove. They want it rebuild on its former beachfront location in compliance with FEMA's new flood elevation requirements. But that's not what some city and county leaders have in mind, and it has these residents upset.

"Too many things have happened with this library. First it was going to be saved. We all saw it on TV and read it in the newspaper, now all of a sudden they want to tear it down," one member said.

Mayor Warr says simply repairing the library would come at a loss to the city.

According to FEMA, if the city and county decided not to tear down the facility and repair it, FEMA would put a cap on the funding. There would also be a loss in relocation monies. And if the site is ever damaged in a future hurricane, it would not be eligible for federal funds.

Those are just some of the reasons city and county leaders say the building must come down.

However, the mayor assures residents that they can look forward to not one, but two new buildings: One in downtown Gulfport, the other in Orange Grove.

But that's not reason enough to keep these residents from trying to save their library. They say they will continue their fight until the city does what's best for the people.

According to Councilwoman Libby Milner-Roland, the Board of Supervisors opened bids for demolition. However, they plan on holding all bids until April 29.

It is unknown whether there will be another public hearing on the Gulfport Library issue.