Dale County Chairman suggests ODCL alternative

An alternative option for the Ozark Dale County Library Board to consider was discussed at the Dale County Commission meeting March 10.

Dale County Commission Chairman Mark Blankenship said that he met with some of the library board on two occasions and the idea emerged that the board consider an empty store building as the site of the proposed new library.

The Ozark Dale County Library Board is working to build a new facility and had asked the Dale County Commission for financial assistance at the commission meeting Feb. 25.

At that meeting ODCL Board Member Marie Black asked the commissioners to consider a donation of $1 million towards the project that is expected to cost some $3 million.

Land for a facility to be build on the corner of Peacock and North Union Avenues has been purchased, Black said, adding that the proposed facility will be a 10,000 square foot brick building located near the downtown square in Ozark.

The proposed facility will have two study rooms, two community meeting rooms, an adult area with computers, a children’s room with a designated story time area and a Friends of the Library Book Sale Room and work area.

Black said that in 2019 more than 26,000 people used the internet services at the existing library and some 33,831 borrowed books, DVDs and e-books. Some 92,000 jobs were applied for online over the library’s internet system and 11,219 people attended library-hosted programs for children and adults. “Anytime we are open, we have at least 200 visitors,” she added.

“We need a new building with community rooms and increased parking that is wired for the future,” Black said, adding that approximately $1 million has been raised to date.

“Our problem is that we can’t find a building that is suitable to renovate and there again, we’d have to have the money to renovate,” Black said.

Black said the board had been told by the Wiregrass Foundation that they would not be eligible to receive a grant from them to put a new roof on an old building.

Black said the USDA will not accept a loan application from the library board without the backing of the county’s governing body.

Black said that the library board had hired consultants to find out the library needs of the community, purchased the land and hired architects to devise a preliminary floor plan. “We’re down to trying to raise funds,” she said, adding that the board has also approached the city of Ozark requesting financial assistance.

“I would like nothing more than to build a new building,” Dale County Commission Chairman Mark Blankenship said previously. “But if we sign a bond issue, that becomes a liability for us and we never know when we, as a county, are going to need another bond issue.”

At the March 10 commission meeting Blankenship said that after meeting with some of the ODCL board members twice, the idea of using the former Dollar General store in the shopping mall across from Ozark City Hall as a library emerged. He said the area is conveniently located near the Kid Zone Park, Carroll High School and is in a place with ample parking.

Calling the idea a “win-win” for the county and city, Blankenship said that if the ODCL board votes to accept that option, they will then ask the city to donate the space to them. Blankenship said he has offered to help the library board with construction renovations.

The next meeting of the Dale County Commission is March 24 in the Dale County Government Building in Ozark. A work session begins at 10 a.m. and is followed immediately by a voting meeting. Both meetings are open to the public.

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