17 April 2006

DCPL Events Saturday, April 22nd: "Fix It Up" Campaign and Town Hall Meeting on the Mayor's Proposal for a New Central Library

Please, if at all possible, attend the townhall meeting this coming Saturday, April 22nd, at 1pm. The letter below, sent to neighborhood Friends of the Libraries (I belong to the Friends of the Woodridge Library), outlines the many concerns of community members. Whether or not you were able to attend one of the "Listening Sessions" earlier this year, I urge you to make your voice heard this weekend (it looks like you should call in advance if you plan on providing testimony; I hope there is some time carved out for open comments/discussion...).

I am a bit dismayed at the timing - this weeked the Woodridge, Capitol View, Francis A. Gregory, and Chevy Chase branches are closed on Saturday (Earth Day!) for a "Fix It Up" campaign from 9am - 2pm. We still need volunteers (and a working elevator at Woodridge, but I digress), yet it is imperative that the community continues to give input into the future of DCPL. Please come out early to volunteer for a few hours and then make your way downtown in time for the meeting. There's very little we can get done at the branches in just 5 hours with a handful of people, and I guarantee you that the Mayor, the Council, and the DCPL Board of Trustees can't be held responsible for their decisions if we aren't there to tell them what we expect for the future of DCPL.

Note: All emphasis below is mine.
Friends –

I wanted to alert you to an emerging issue surrounding the potential disposition of the main DC Public library, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at 901 G Street, NW. Councilmember Kathy Patterson has scheduled a "Town Hall Meeting" on the specific provisions of the Mayor's legislation for this Saturday, April 22 at 1:00 pm in the main hall of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

Mayor Williams has inserted language into the Budget Support Act of 2007 that would allow the current home of the main DC Public Library to be leased to a private entity for 99 years. A relocation of the main library is currently proposed somewhere on the Old Convention Center site some two blocks form the current building. The Mayor's legislation goes on to grant the Mayor or his designee powers to negotiate both PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) and TIFs (taxes in lieu of financing) as well as issue bonds to finance the construction. All funds are directed to go into or come out of a Library Development Trust Fund that was established in a January 2006 law, the Library Enhancement, Assessment and Development Act (LEAD Act).

As the President of the Federation of Friends of the DC Public Library, I am concerned by both the lack of public involvement and the lack of clarity regarding the final product and how it will serve the residents of the District of Columbia. The Board of Library Trustees has never discussed any of these specifics in public session and they have passed no resolution in the last two years beyond a general "sense of the board" that they would support a relocation of the main library.

The Councilmember has scheduled this hearing during a Council recess in order to give the public a chance to comment on the proposal before the District budget is considered by the Council's Committee of the Whole in early May. One hearing on the Budget Support Act was already held (Tuesday, April 11) and the Mayor brought in Directors from two library systems (Brooklyn and Salt Lake City) to testify. There was no testimony from the public at that time because the specifics of the Act had not been brought to the attention of Councilmember Patterson (Chair of the Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation), the Board of Library Trustees, or the Friends of the Library.

Whatever your personal opinion about the current home of the main library, I hope that you will consider joining me in speaking out at the town hall meeting this Saturday. The Council and the residents of the District of Columbia need to hear clearly that citizen involvement is not a hurdle but a tool for achieving real progress. The main library of the District of Columbia should not be a political football, tossed between politicians, developers, and bureaucrats. The residents of the District of Columbia deserve a living memorial to Mr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A living memorial dedicated to improving the lives of every resident of the District of Columbia and supporting their dreams while improving their reality.

If you would like to provide testimony at the hearing, please contact the Council Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation at 202-724-8195. I hope to see you at the Town Hall Meeting this Saturday, April 22, 2006 at 1:00 pm in the lobby of the MLK Library, 901 G Street, NW.

Richard Huffine, President
Federation of Friends of the DC Public Library

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.