Black, wrought iron style fence at the Main Library

Library Board Gives Go Ahead to Gate

By Jared Leone

A fence and locking gate could soon be coming to one of the city’s “signature” buildings downtown.

Officials looking to keep the front entrance and courtyard area clean at the Main Library plan to add an eight foot tall, black, wrought-iron style fence similar to the one at Station Square Park around it.

Members of the Library Advisory Board talked about and unanimously approved the plan at a special meeting Wednesday. The City Council discusses funding the $72,000 project next week.

“It has a bad feel to put barriers on a library. It’s the thought more than the action but I understand why we need to do it,” board member Barbara Murphey said.

It is no secret the homeless coalesce near and around the building which is at the top of Coachman Park, members said.

“This has been a problem since the library opened,” board member Judith McSwine said. “We all know people who have said they won’t come to this library because of those issues.”

Library director Barbara Pickell said the plan to enhance the courtyard area would create an appealing vision for patrons entering the library. Within the perimeter of the entrance fence would be a courtyard gallery to showcase touring art pieces, similar to the 360 Sculpture program along Cleveland Street.

Some board members had to wait outside before the 10 a.m. meeting because the library does not open until that same time. Murphey asked where would people wait if that area is fenced?

Pickell said staff, who typically arrive 30 minutes before the library opens, could unlock it.

Pickell said the front area has become “bedraggled” and cluttered with cigarette butts. She said it is a maintenance no man’s land that does not see regular cleaning unless requested.

However, Kevin Dunbar, Parks and Recreation director, said the area is power washed regularly twice a year.

The plan to enhance the courtyard with art and a fence also would keep the homeless from sleeping out front of the building when it is closed. A similar styled fence would be added around the west terrace as well.

“We will welcome anybody and we want to serve them as best we can. We don’t want that to change but we want to provide an extra level of security when the library’s closed,” Pickell said.


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