The News and the Muses Come to Me. A Quick Hello to the Library Group

Finally I finish my posting frenzy by acknowledging it is burying Nowdy’s excellent Facts and Assumtions entry which I highly encourage our visitors to read and comment upon. However I find myself compelled to mention today’s Sun Herald story on the Gulfport library. I’ll borrow Sid Salter’s phrase “editorial wood” to describe slabbed’s registration of displeasure on the mixture of the Library and Grass Lawn issues and disclose Deb is still talking to me despite my laying the smack down in the post on that subject. That entry has proven to be very popular in terms of page views.

The passage of time and some introspection has provided some perspective on the political brier patch We the People found themselves at Gulfport City Hall last month. It also allowed the group to refocus their efforts on the Library and the process involving it’s demolition. Deb sent me a pdf that explained why the County suddenly lost it’s ardor to immediately tear the storm damaged building down. It also explains today’s Sun Herald story on why the State Department of Archives and History is now inspecting the building. IMHO The story contains a veiled warning to the libary group concerning the expenditure of funds to fix it. Somehow I think should We the People prevail rounding up the money to restore the building will not be a major impediment. Now for that news story by Melissa Scallan:

Bill Gatlin walked the perimeter of the Gulfport Library on Tuesday morning, examining the tiles and other features on the building. 

On the inside, Gatlin and two other staffers with the state Department of Archives & History looked at the columns, the light fixtures and windows and noted the detail of the architecture.

The three will discuss their findings with the department’s seven-member permit committee, which will decide if the building can be named a Mississippi Landmark.

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors recently opened bids to demolish the building but delayed awarding them until Archives & History inspected it. The county plans to relocate the main library branch to Orange Grove and build a smaller branch in downtown Gulfport.

If the current building receives the landmark designation, supervisors can’t demolish the building without a permit from Archives & History but still can proceed with plans for the new libraries.

And if the library does become a state landmark, the county isn’t required to repair it or use the building in any way.

“This is a very unusual building for the Gulf Coast,” Gatlin said as he walked around the outside. “The fact that this building withstood Camille and Katrina says a lot for the way it was built.”

Gatlin explained that Archives & History uses the same criteria as the National Register of Historic Places to determine if a building should be a landmark. Criteria include age of the building, historical significance, architecture and historic integrity, as well as importance to the community.

“If we designate the building as a Mississippi Landmark, it creates a perpetual preservation easement, so that before the county could remodel the building or tear down the building or sell the building, they would have to get a permit,” he said, adding a caveat.

“Even if we landmark it, there’s no obligation for the county to put a library here or do anything with it.”

Supervisors have said repeatedly that they will not put a library or any other public building on that property because of the possibility that it will be damaged in another storm.

Russell Archer, who serves on the permit committee, said the group meets June 12. The committee could decide to make the building a landmark or just make a recommendation to the full board, which meets in July.

If the committee designates the building a landmark, there would be a 30-day comment period. If the county objects, the full board would have to hear the appeal and make a decision.

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