Strong opinions brew over new library downtown | News
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There were fireworks Tuesday night over whether to build a new library downtown. Mayor Kip Holden allocated millions for the project, but some say, it is just a waste of money.
Tuesday was the first of several public hearings to get input on the mayor's budget. He set aside $19 million for the project. Not even two weeks after Mayor Holden presented his $740 million budget to the Baton Rouge Metro Council, he is starting to get some heavy pushback.
Built in 1980, the Baton Rouge River Center Branch Library is one of several in the parish system.
East Baton Rouge Parish Library Director David Farrar say $21.7 million would include demolishing the current building and adding underground in addition to the construction of a new building. For now, Farrar said he hopes to just lock in $19 million as proposed in the budget.
"I urge you to support this. I think it's extremely important for this community. It is a cultural and a civic attraction that can be used in so many different ways," said Davis Rhorer with the Downtown Development District.
About 30 members of the Baton Rouge Tea Party, dressed in red, stood in a long line, voicing their opposition.
"I just believe that we can find a better use for about $18 million of this $19 million. I think we can take a million dollars to do in upgrades of the present building," said Ray Turner.
They even held some little friends, after Farrar made a comment last week about children's tea parties and teddy bears. Jokes aside, Tea Party members said the building is not worth the effort.
"I've been there. I've seen it with my own eyes and no one's there," said Lonnie Granier with the Baton Rouge Tea Party.
Those for the project acknowledged the Tea Party, but urged the council not to make a library political.
"It's hard to beat this behind us so please I encourage you to approve this so we can make downtown better," said James Anderson.
The Baton Rouge Metro Council will have several more open sessions including one Thursday at 4 p.m. They will vote on the budget December 8th.
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