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Monday, 31st May 2010

Move Fails to Shift Construction Money to Replace College Hill Library

Move fails to shift construction money to replace College Hill library

Supporters of a library named for one of Tampa's best-known civil rights leaders have fended off an attempt to shift nearly $8 million in construction funds to another inner-city library.

Hillsborough County commissioners had earmarked the money to tear down and rebuild the Robert W. Saunders Sr. Public Library near Ybor City. But that project probably won't take place for at least five years.

So this spring, supporters of the College Hill Branch Library asked county officials to use the money to replace their busy, crowded branch right away.

"The Library Board should see for itself the many cracks in the walls and floors allegedly caused by the shifting of the ground beneath the building," said Howard F. Harris Jr., president of the Ada T. Payne Friends of the Urban Libraries, in a March 12 letter.

College Hill needs a new library now, Harris said in his letter to the county, while the need for a new Saunders library "is in the distant future."

To supporters of the Saunders library, those were fighting words. If the county shifted the money away from the Saunders project, they feared, it might never happen.

"There's not many of us civil rights warriors still here," said Ann Porter, 72, the past president of the Tampa-Hillsborough branch of the NAACP. "I would just hate to see the memory of one of our leaders go down the drain behind something like this."

Source: St. Petersburg Times


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