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Thursday, Mar 21, 2019
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City rejects library move

ZEPHYRHILLS - All the heavy hitters in this town of 13,000 were on hand to push their vision for the city's public library, but it took a 7-year-old's concern to move the crowd to applause. About 50 people gathered for Monday's city council meeting, where the agenda called for reconsideration of relocating the city's library to an empty Wachovia Bank building on 5th Avenue. The city already is deep into the library project, having hired an architectural and design firm to plan remodeling and additions to the existing library on 8th Street, and that work is ongoing. However, some weeks back the owners of the bank building — Tim Linville, Kevin Ryman and Al Biston — mobilized supporters to get the council to reconsider the project, focusing on the bank building they want to sell to the city.
Councilwoman Jodi Wilkeson, who asked for the reconsideration to be put on the agenda, argued that moving the library to the bank building could save the city money. Luis Lopez, a former city councilman, said he had conducted an unbiased survey that found the residents he talked to favored almost anything but the bank location. Then came Sarah. Sarah Jurgens, 7, couldn't reach the microphone on the podium, so she held it in her hand as she told council members: "I don't think the library should be moved because you can walk to it and there's less chance of being hit by a car." She then used the remainder of her three minutes to tell the audience and council about the dangers of speeding cars, and when she was done she received a hearty round of applause. Later, her mother, Laura Jurgens, told council members the speech was her daughter's idea and, had she had more time, she would have appeared with a group of classmates with signs and banners. Backers of the bank-as-library restated their argument that putting the library in the old bank would help revitalize the city's main street and would be cost effective. Then, owners of another 5th Avenue building, the former Shirts and Caps structure adjacent to the city's public park, Time Square, offered their building. Craig Hilferding said his family's business had doubled and they were going to have to move to larger quarters. He said the asking price was $1.39 million, but the city could have it with a $200,000 discount. Finally, Wilkeson offered a resolution, "that we reconsider moving the library to the Wachovia building." The motion died for lack of a second, so the original project to remodel and expand the library on the 8th Street site will continue.
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