O'Kelly Memorial Library

The O'Kelly Memorial Library opened in 1989 in Loganville, Ga.

They didn’t say no, they said let’s hold off a year.

The Loganville City Council unanimously voted Thursday to put the O’Kelly Memorial Library’s grant status in “purgatory” until 2022. Council members decided to form a committee made up of city and county officials, library system representatives and community stakeholders to further discuss building a new library.

Azalea Regional Library System director Stacy Brown approached the city council in April requesting support to build a larger library in a location that allows for more green space and is better secured from heavy road traffic. The O’Kelly Memorial Library currently sits on property owned by the city.

Residents voiced their concerns online and during a recent town hall and council work session. Some worried the proposed project would burden taxpayers. Others suggested that the existing library, which is 30 years old, could be renovated. Several said their questions regarding the deed for the library property and proposed future location for a new library were not being adequately addressed.

Council members seemed to concur with their constituents.

Councilwoman Anne Huntsinger, who chairs the city’s finance and economic development committees, led the discussion on the library prior to the vote.

Huntsinger said she did not feel comfortable with the city making a financial commitment until specifics including cost estimates, square footage and location for a new library, were nailed down by the library’s board of trustees.

Councilwoman Lisa Newberry said she didn’t want the city to “be on the hook” for the grant.

The library’s grant status is now at No. 6 in the state, confirmed Nate Rall, the director for facilities and planning with the Georgia Public Library Service. The GPLS is a state agency that provides training and technology support to and advocates for Georgia’s library systems.

Rall, who was present at Thursday’s council meeting, explained the grant application process.

To be included in the upcoming 2022 fiscal year, the state would have to receive a grant application for capital outlay funds by July 31, he said. Grant requests go before the Georgia General Assembly.

Rall said there were two types of grants: capital construction for new construction and a grant for major repair and renovation.

The funding formula to build a new library would require 10% local matching funds of the first $1 million of costs, according to Rall.

He told council members he was suspending the second type of grant funding. To be eligible for renovation (MRR) funding, a library must remain in its current location for 5 years, he said.

Newberry commented that the Georgia Department of Transportation might work on an intersection by the library. Rall said with that fact in mind, the library would not be eligible for an MRR grant.

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