Vote clears way for town to donate property to library

Published 11:05 am Wednesday, October 6, 2021

WELSH — The Welsh Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday to declare property adjacent to the McBurney Memorial Library as surplus property.

The move clears the way for the town to donate the property to the Jeff Davis Parish Library for the future expansion of the library, according to Library Director Clare Coleman.

While still in the early planning stage, Coleman said long-range plans call for expanding the existing library or building a new one at the corner of Sarah and Hudspeth streets.

The project could take 5-10 years to become a reality, she said.

“If this happens this will be the premiere location for the Jeff Davis Parish Library,” Mayor Karl Arcneaux said. “I think it is a no-brainer to have the premiere library in the town of Welsh. Welsh is more centrally located than any other municipality in the parish, so it just makes sense to have it here because of the location.”

The first step was to have the town declare the empty lot as surplus property and donate it to the library. The property will revert back to the town if the library does not use the land within five years, according to town attorney Rick Arceneaux.

The town will need to enter into a joint service agreement or cooperative endeavor agreement with the Jeff Davis Parish Police Jury to assume maintenance and liability for the property.

“The town will benefit from not having to take care of the property or having the liability of a vacant lot where kids play and can get hurt,” he said.

Coleman said the library has been setting money aside for several years in hopes of funding the project without having to borrow money or ask taxpayers for help in funding the project.

The library board began discussing the possibility of a new library 10 years ago after a strategic plan found the current library was overcrowded, too small and no longer met the needs of the community. The plan found the library lacked meeting rooms, tutoring space for students, storage space and had limited space to hold programs.

A new, larger library would ease overcrowding and add the needed space for special programs and public gatherings, Coleman said.

The McBurney Memorial Library was opened in 1973 and renovated in 2010.