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No vote on Athens library site

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — Silence was the response Athens City Council President Harold Wales got when he asked his fellow council members to support buying the Kroger building for a library.

Wales asked for someone to make a motion to spend $350,000 toward the cost. No one complied.

Wales wanted the city and Limestone County Commission to split the $700,000 cost of the Kroger site on Jefferson Street.

In January, the city and county agreed to pay $60,000 each over three years to cover the interest on a loan for the Athens-Limestone Public Library board to buy the site and renovate it for a new library. The board and the library's foundation then would have to raise money to fund the $4 million renovation and payback of the loan.

Wales wanted the city and county to do more, but failed to get that support. He said the city could have funded its share from reserves and impact fees.

Councilman Jimmy Gill said he talked to commissioners who said they would support paying half for the building. Other council members said the city couldn't afford to spend $350,000 to buy it.

Councilwoman Milly Caudle and Councilman Ronnie Marks said they are also concerned about how the library plans to raise money.

"It would be irrational and irresponsible for us to do this without knowing how it's going to be funded," Caudle said.

Councilman Johnny Crutcher said he does not support the Kroger site. He said he supports spending about $2 million to expand the current library next to Julian Newman Elementary.

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