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Craig Park site is sought for library list

Two city commissioners want Craig Park to be considered, along with four other sites, for the city's library.

Commissioners Cindy Domino and Blaine LeCouris said they believe the 3-2 vote of the library task force to exclude Craig Park from the sites was not representative. The task force had seven members, two of whom were not present for the vote.

In his memo to commissioners, LeCouris said he called and asked the two absent members if they would have voted to include Craig Park. They said yes.

"Therefore I consider the vote 4-3 in favor of the present library site being included," LeCouris wrote.

Last week, the task force recommended four possible sites for the library. They are the old People's Hardware Store on Tarpon Avenue, 2.5 acres on Pinellas Avenue and Cypress Street, the former Kidney Dialysis Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and the Tarpon Arcade on Pinellas Avenue. The library's present site, Craig Park, was not recommended.

Members of the library board of trustees and the Friends of the Library have argued that the present site should be included because the library could be expanded there more cheaply. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has led the opposition, saying expansion could damage the park irreparably.

The library needs to be twice its 9,000 square feet, library board members told commissioners earlier this year.

Expanding the library got a little easier with a $250,000 gift from local benefactor A.L. Ellis. The new library will be named after Ellis' late wife, Helen.

Domino said that while she is open to all the suggestions by the committee, she thought it foolish not to have the staff investigate the financial soundness of expanding the library at its current site.

"I want the facts all brought forth," Domino said. "Not to have staff research it too is silly."