Lafayette’s long-awaited Northeast Regional Library Branch is set to be built on Louisiana Avenue near Northside High School after a vote of the parish’s Library Board Monday.
Lafayette Parish’s Library Board of Control voted 4-0 in favor of selecting a 5 acre lot in the 2600 block of Louisiana Avenue owned by ESD Investments near Infinity College, with member Stephanie Armbruster abstaining.
Board members Shane Landers, David Pitre, Joan Wingate and President Robert Judge voted in favor. Three of the board’s eight members were not present Monday, with James Thomas and Daniel Kelly absent and a replacement for Landon Boudreaux, who resigned recently, not yet appointed.
“There is such a need (for this library) that I feel confident in our director that we’re going to make it work,” Landers said.
“(Library Director) Danny (Gillane) has said services at other libraries will take a hit, besides just closing on Sundays, but I still think this library is such a need that I believe in our director to make it happen.”
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Roughly 70 people attended Monday’s library board meeting. Speakers were nearly unanimous in their support for the ESD Investments proposal, but Armbruster questioned the financial viability of a new library branch and Judge raised the possibility of a temporary site.
Nureka Ross, a member of the Northeast Library Exploratory Committee that was quietly disbanded this summer, said plans to build the new location had been delayed for too long by diversions.
“I am sick and tired of hearing comments about ‘Oh, we need to do this. We need to wait.’ We had a meeting. We made a decision to move forward with one property. I was on this committee. And you know what happened? Without any prior notification, the committee was dissolved,” she said.
“If River Ranch was in need of a library, it would have been built by now,” she added.
Calls for a Northeast Regional Library Branch were renewed in recent years, particularly after one of the parish library system’s two property taxes survived a renewal election last fall that threatened further cuts to the library following the parish’s 2018 rejection of a similar renewal.
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Four proposals for land sales were received this spring, and the Library Board voted to pursue negotiations with two of them after the Northeast committee selected only the ESD Investments offer for further negotiations.
Monday’s vote follows complaints by Parish Council Chair AB Rubin on Thursday that the Library Board’s handling of its request for proposals for the land purchase was flawed and in violation of the law because it sought final offers from some respondents but not all.
But local governments generally have wide discretion on how they purchase land under state law, as long as they do not pay more than the appraised value for the land or violate the terms they lay out in their own processes.
ESD Investments quoted the library a price of between $600,000 and $650,000 for the site on the 2600 block of Louisiana Avenue next to Infinity College. But the purchase will be handled by Lafayette Consolidated Government, which cannot pay more than the appraised value for the land.
Library Director Danny Gillane said Monday the land had not yet been appraised by LCG.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Northeast Lafayette library set for Louisiana Ave near Northside High