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Wednesday, 01 July 2009 17:54

Jackson eyes options for current library site

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In the game of musical chairs stemming from the library moving out of its current digs on Sylva’s Main Street, “rear ends” may be landing in unexpected places.

The Sylva Police Department was at least temporarily rebuffed — not “rebutted,” though you might think so — in its inquiry into occupying the old library building.

At the town board’s direction, Police Chief Jeff Jamison recently approached the county about the prospect of buying the old library and converting it into a police station. But Jamison learned the county may have plans of its own for the building. The county currently leases space for a few of its departments, which could be relocated to the old library to save on rent money.

The problem, however, is that the building only has 16 parking spaces, said County Manager Ken Westmoreland.

Another option on the table would be to sell the building to the adjacent Jackson Savings Bank. Westmoreland said the bank has long indicated interest in acquiring the building.

He said the county’s about 18 months out from making a decision. Construction has only just now gotten underway on the new library.

Still on the hunt to relieve crowding at the current town hall and police station, Sylva leaders are now eyeing a couple of former fire truck bays in the main level of town hall that are currently used for storage. Town Manager Adrienne Isenhower said they’re just putting the finishing touches on a grant application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Grant and Loan Program to renovate the space, and hope to know by fall if they’ll get the grant.

If so, that’s what they’ll do — and that’s their druthers anyway, Isenhower said.

“I think I would pick what we’re doing [over the county space] because it will put us all in the same place. We want the expansion,” Isenhower said.

Under that scenario, “The renovation is scheduled to begin in fall of 2010,” Chief Jamison said. “The federal Department of Agriculture has money available for municipalities with those kinds of needs to expand.”

Mayor Brenda Oliver said the town would also need to conduct a feasibility study of renovation of the bays for use by police.

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