TRURO – A public meeting will be held in two weeks before Truro town council decides on where a new library will be located.
No decision has been made on where a new library in Truro will be. Truro town council discussed the issue on Monday and decided to wait to make a decision until after a public meeting will be held later this month. The two locations being considered are the old hat factory, left, and the Normal College, both on Prince Street.
A lengthy discussion on the library's new home took place during Monday's regular monthly town council meeting. About 14 people were in the gallery to hear the debate.
Ultimately, council said although it wants to make a decision on this year-long issue, a site should not be chosen until the public has voiced its opinion as well. The meeting will take place on Monday, Sept. 23 but a time and location still need to be confirmed. It will be an evening session.
Norval Mitchell, the chairman of the Truro library, told the Truro Daily News he's pleased with the decision to include the residents.
"I'm very happy with it. It's the right way to go," Mitchell said.
Truro's Glenda Cameron, a supporter of the library, added, "I think the public should have their say. There's a lot going on behind the scenes and (we need) to hear both sides."
Council said the process has to soon come to an end.
"It's been very frustrating. We've been talking for 26 years about what to do with the Normal College and in all that time the building is deteriorating," said Truro Mayor Bill Mills. "This is not a competition between one location or another. (The Normal College is) a historical building and it's about the money. If we tore down the building then there's an outcry after the fact that we are being short-sighted. It's quite a dilemma here."
"If the Normal College was not in the equation the hat factory would" be a great option, Mills added.
A recent joint library committee, consisting of three council members from both the town and municipality, voted on the location, which resulted in a tie. It was previously reported town representatives supported the Normal College while county officials favoured the old hat factory.
Town solicitor John Rafferty reminded council on Monday that a memorandum of understanding between the county and town states a $2.2-million contribution for the $5.4-million project by the municipality expires at the end of this month. It is possible for the town to relocate the library without the county's financial input if the county decides not to back the town's decision.
"It would not be very wise" to do it alone, said Mills. "We are very close to our debt limit (because of other major projects including the new hospital and Rath Eastlink Community Centre) and adding to the tax rate for 20 years would be irresponsible."
Coun. Tom Chisholm offered another way to solve the issue. Chisholm suggested the county, which "is adamantly in favour of the hat factory," could contribute an extra million dollars for that site, which would help the town pour more money into the Normal College for other uses. The town already has half a million dollars in the bank specifically for renovations to the Normal College but Chisholm said another half a million should be fundraised if the library went into the old hat factory.
"Money is the end factor," Chisholm said, adding he's had "more than 100 calls and emails" on the situation.
"Two to one are in favour of the Normal College ... (but) 35 per cent of taxpayers don't want the library or would fix this one."
Councillors had various levels of public feedback on the topic.
"I've been subjected to a number of meetings and emails," said Danny Joseph. "If it goes in the hat factory, so be it, but those supporters have to campaign for the Normal College too."
Raymond Tynes said, "I haven't gotten many public calls" on the library issue.
Deputy mayor Greg MacArthur said regardless of the final outcome, "it's time to make a decision."