A third public meeting about the future of Gulfport Library took place on Thursday (the 12th) and this one seems to have actually produced some encouraging movement on all sides. According to the Sun-Herald article, the many interested parties, including the county, FEMA and MDAH will sign a Memorandum of Agreement wherein the county agrees to give interested parties one year to develop proposals and gather partners to save the building and put it back into productive use. However, there will be no financial involvement from the county or the city–the citizens’ groups are on their own. If nothing develops by the deadline, the building may be demolished. Perhaps this is the best that we could hope for at this point, but as I’ve mentioned before, the forced privatization of public space, especially this important public space overlooking the Mississippi Sound, is disturbing. It used to be that citizens = public = government, but now it seems that there’s citizens and then there’s government. I’m just tilting at windmills, I suppose, but I’m good at tilting–it’s my low center-of-gravity that gives me that extra tilting ability.
To show that I can end on a bright note, I will say I was happy to see some mention of the stimulus money.
Harrison County officials have agreed to give groups interested in restoring the Gulfport Library building at least a year to present proposals, including funding sources.
Anyone who wants to lease the building would have to agree to take on all costs.
The county also has agreed to put together a packet of information about the library to give to groups who would like to restore the building.
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Two people presented proposals that include using the building for community functions, as well as rotating art and history exhibits.
Lillian Kane spoke on behalf of the South Mississippi Heritage Preservation and Education Group, which wants to use tax credits to restore the building and use it to “promote art, culture and history of the Gulf Coast.
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Patsy Spinks, a member of We the People, also presented a plan for the library that includes an auditorium downstairs dedicated to Capt. Joseph T. Jones, one of Gulfport’s founders, as well as a small library upstairs and community meeting rooms.
She said there are grants available to help fund the project, as well as government stimulus money.