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Last night at City Hall

Largo settles on a relief, not a statue, of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Commissioner Rodney Woods wants to rename the library, too.

Commissioner Rodney Woods wants to rename the library, too.

After years of bickering over whether to build a memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., commissioners voted Tuesday to put a relief of the famous civil rights leader on a wall inside the Largo Library.

The sculpture will be a scaled-down version of the statue that Commissioner Rodney J. Woods envisioned at the Largo Central Park. Woods has also proposed changing the name of the library to honor King.

When Woods suggested gathering input from various advisory boards to gauge public support for a memorial Tuesday, the idea was rejected by the other commissioners.

Instead, Commissioner Mary Gray Black proposed the relief as a compromise. She said the commission has wrestled with the topic for too long and it was time to move forward. The project was initially proposed in 2003.

"The purpose of my motion is to honor Dr. King," Black said.

In her motion, Black asked that the library's board and its director advise commissioners on what wall should be used for the relief.

The motion also mandates that the cost of the project not exceed the $15,000 that has already been allocated.

Woods agreed that commissioners need to move forward with other issues facing the city.

The vote was unanimous.

"This is just a topic that the city of Largo and the country is not ready to talk about," Woods said.

Before the vote Tuesday, a few Largo residents spoke. Some were disturbed by the idea of changing the name of the Largo Library.

"One very special amenity in our city is the Largo Library," said Don Forehand, who said he has lived in Largo since 1937. "I came here tonight to let you know that I am very opposed to calling it anything else."

Resident Alec Porter told commissioners he thought Woods has been unfairly attacked for his passion for the memorial.

Porter said Woods was saddled with the responsibility of raising money and offered to chair an effort.

"I believe that a statue put up in the library … represents something in Largo that children can go see," Porter said. "I admired him."

In the end, all seven commissioners agreed it was time to move on.

"I've heard enough," said Mayor Patricia Gerard. "I've talked about it enough."

Largo settles on a relief, not a statue, of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 03/18/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 20, 2008 5:56pm]
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