LARGO -- The question burning in Largo for many months is what happens to the present library building when the new $23 million library opens next summer?
The City Commision decided Tuesday night to spend $30,000 for a consultant to provide the facts and information on which the commission will make its decision.
After a laborious discussion, the vote was 6-1 for a study the results of which are expected in about 90 days.
Only Commissioner Charlie Harper hung in on opposing the expenditure. The issue failed on a vote November 16 when Commissioner Jean Halvorsen joined Harper in opposing it.
Commissioners Pat Burke and Harriet Crozier were absent from that meeting. Tuesday they joined Mayor Bob Jackson and Commissioners Pat Gerard and Gay Gentry, and Halvorsen, who changed her mind to go with the consultant.
John Atanasio, a citizen and member of the city's Finance Advisory Board, pointed out that there was enough expertise among the welter of appointed boards in the city to come up with a plan for the building that will start emptying out in June.
Harper said that if a consultant is used, the use and future of the current Community Center on Fourth Street needs to be taken into account.
Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert, who presented the consultant plan, said that involving the Community Center was not contemplated in the study.
"So we solve one problem and create another that will in turn involve another consultant," Jackson said, referring to the future of the present Community Center.
Karen Seel, a county commissioner, along with Dave Healey of the Pinellas Planning Council gave the commission the outlines of a plan for redevelopment in the county.
"This is to ignite ideas and facilitate ways of carrying them out," she said. "Think of the resources we want to bring into play as a ‘tool box'."
In her typical gracious and down to earth way, Seel assisted Healey when he was presenting by holding graphic exhibits. "Vanna White," Seel said, grinning.
The commission and those present in the chamber were entertained throughout the evening as Jackson wrestled with the intricacies of a new electronic speaker recognition system.
It was out of sight from the chamber and TV audience but Jackson and his colleagues were well aware and in amused confusion over the who, what and when of the system.
Brandon Graham, who produces the commission meeting as it appears on TV's Channel 15, explained to the commission at the beginning of the meeting that the system was linked into the TV production was designed to help tell what the TV camera should show.
There was much hilarity over it during the meeting.
As it used to be said up in Bonifay, a good time was had by all.
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