Ward 1 has two options for public library

Avoyelles officials can lease existing building or locate parish-owned modular building on donated land

There are now two viable options to provide Ward 1 residents with a library branch -- one would lease an existing building and the other would provide a parish-owned structure.

Whether proponents of the two options will agree to one as the best solution or divide into armed camps over the issue remains to be seen. The Library Board tabled the matter for further study at its May 23 meeting.

Police Juror Marsha Wiley, who represents the Ward 1 area, said both options presented to the Library Board are excellent proposals.

“I am excited we get a library in Effie, which is something most other areas of the parish have had for some time,” Wiley said.

Police Jury President Charles Jones said he was encouraged by what he heard at the meeting. He was also pleased by Library Board members’ responses to Cottonport Bank President A.J. Roy III ‘s offer to donate land for a library branch in Effie, near the site of a new Cottonport Bank branch.

Roy said he would allow the library to tie into the bank’s sewage treatment system.

The only condition would be that the library branch would have to be the same size as the bank’s branch building.

Roy said the Library System would be able to use the same modular building contract price that Cottonport Bank has for its branch.

Until this meeting, the leading proposal was to lease space in an existing building in the Effie area.

Library Director Theresa Thevenote had said earlier this year that she would prefer to build a branch that the parish would own rather than be committed to a long-term lease.

The advantage to a lease would be that a branch could be opened sooner than it could if a brick-and-mortar building was constructed.

The cost of construction was not a serious impediment since the Library System has a healthy reserve that could cover that cost.

The use of a modular building -- a pre-manufactured metal structure -- would considerably reduce the time difference between moving into an existing building under a lease and opening a new branch owned by the parish.

Jones said most at the board meeting seemed to support Roy’s offer.

Under that proposal, the Library System would purchase the building and move it onto the donated site. The Library System would be responsible for getting water and electric utility service to the building and furnishing it for use as a library.

The modular building would cost about $60,000. Having it placed on the site and having utilities installed would be an additional cost.

Wiley favors a proposal to lease space in a vacant store building owned by Brad Dauzat. That site near Lafargue Elementary School has been offered for $500 a month for five years. Dauzat would cover the cost of renovations to prepare the site to house the library branch.

“I am very appreciative of A.J. Roy’s gracious offer,” Wiley said. “It would be wonderful to have a library by the bank. It is a good spot for a library.”

She also praised Brent and Sherry Dauzat for stepping forward and offering the use of their property to house the library.

Wiley said her main concern is in spending possibly more than $80,000 to establish the branch “when we don’t know if it will work in this area.”

She said there is no way to determine the usage the branch would receive. The modular building could be too much or too little to properly meet the public’s need.

“I would prefer to see us lease a site for five years, at a total cost of $30,000, and determine the need in the community and then build the modular branch by the bank later -- assuming A.J. keeps that offer open.”

Wiley said leasing buildings for a library branch is not new. The Library System has paid $500 a month for its site in Cottonport for at least 30 years, she said. The monthly rent for the Marksville branch on Washington Street was more than that, she added.

Wiley conceded this is one of those arguments she wouldn’t absolutely hate to lose “because either one is a great option for the people of Ward 1. Either way, Ward 1 will finally get a library.”

Several jurors have sided with Wiley in insisting that Ward 1 -- which has never had a public library branch -- receive a branch before projects to remodel a site to relocate the branch in Cottonport and a renovation project at the Bunkie branch be done.

The Library System will soon be moving its Mansura branch into the recently remodeled L&A Train Depot Museum building.

There is also work underway to improve the Simmesport branch, including restoring the Farm & Fish Museum exhibits to the library.

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