May 1, 2017

Semmes Library: The Back Story

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Mayor David Baker

Mayor David Baker

Back Story on the Semmes Library

Mayor David Baker

Mayor David Baker

The very day that the Semmes Library situation was placed on Mayor Baker’s desk we went into high gear on researching the problem, getting expert input, and studying the City’s financial trends and prospects.

From the beginning there was no question that the Semmes Library had to be preserved as the center of Semmes, its home put on a permanent and financially sustainable basis.

The first thing we did was to enlist the advice, pro bono, of outside experts. We did a library walkthrough inspection with an architect, another walkthrough with a commercial real estate expert.  Their consultations were purely personal contributions to the community – neither the architect nor the real estate expert will be involved in any future developments with the Library, unless on a pro bono basis.  We got other local input and researched the real estate market.

An internal management review of City operations was already underway and a reorganization plan to increase operational effectiveness while cutting $300,000 a year in waste was being put into effect.   Implementing these changes, together with the contributions of ideas from personnel throughout City departments for savings, we began to see a steady gain in the City’s financial situation each month.

We were meticulous in avoiding self-defeating confusion in the County/CVS negotiating process by keeping quietly in touch with Commissioner Connie Hudson, the county administrator, and the county attorney.  They and separately, the citizens of Semmes, did a marvelous job of bringing the negotiations to the point where the lowered price range and our improving City finances make it possible for us to at least talk about the possibility of the City of Semmes buying the building.

The Semmes Finance Committee looked over the City financial situation and prospects, the costs involved in buying and owning the building as Library and City of Semmes Center, and voted unanimously to recommend to the City Council that they give the Mayor authority to negotiate with the County, the Mobile Public Library, and CVS, Inc.,  for acquisition of the facility with continued support from the County.  An important point is if the City of Semmes is successful in buying the building, the ongoing and long term funding for continued operation of the Library as a branch of the Mobile Public Library would be funded by the Mobile County Commission.

So, now, with the goal in sight, we go into the final and most difficult phase of the campaign: the beginning of negotiations for a permanent and over-time sustainable

home for the Semmes Library at the corner of Moffett & McCrary in downtown Semmes.

Your continued support, understanding, and patience is greatly needed and earnestly desired.


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