Over the past few months, one of the big topics of discussion in Lee County has been the new Library. I’ve been poring over the available data on that over the past few days, and I gotta say, by and large, I agree with the Commissioners on this one.
Now, for those who have been with us since the beginning (and I don’t even think Tom has been around THAT long), y’all saw back in January where I tried to have a discussion on government and libraries in general. (Kind of hard to have a discussion when you’re getting MAYBE 5 views a day, as I was lucky to do those first couple of weeks. Just FYI there. :D)
With that noted, however, I’ve been looking at the online data as far as what the Commissioners were presented with and what I was able to find regarding population density and current library locations.
Currently, the population center in Lee County truly is, from all available data that I’ve seen, in the southern quarter of the county, near the LeDo line. Furthermore, there are already three library locations: Smithville in the north, Leesburg in the central zone, and Redbone in the southeast portion of the county. From what I saw, none of those lie inside the most densely populated regions of the county.
With so much development already in the Hwy 19 and LeDo Rd areas, those two areas don’t really make sense for a combination library and meeting hall, primarily because of the existing burden to the infrastructure. After all, would you REALLY want a 300 person Christmas party to be dumping out at Nottingham and Ledo on December 23rd?
However, the Lover’s Lane/ Old Leesburg Rd areas are out because of the opposite problem – too much residential development and the existing infrastructure wouldn’t be able to withstand the strain.
Therefore, I do agree that the Hwy 82 corridor is best – contrary to what quite a few letters to the editor/squawks/soapboxes have said. The problem here is that to be effective, the new library/meeting center needs to be as easily visible by as many people as possible, and also as easy as possible to navigate to. Further complicating the issue is the limited area available to search. Because it needs to be readily seen by as many people as possible, it really does need to be along somewhere directly along Hwy 82 – and Hwy 82 is only in Lee County for just under 5.5 miles, from the Liberty Expressway overpass of Dawson Rd next to Longhorn Steakhouse to about 1.25 miles northwest of the intersection of Hwy 82 and Oakland Rd. For the first 3 miles or so of this leaving Dougherty County, there is highly developed residential areas on the southern side of the highway, meaning that area is out.
With the further restrictions noted, I further agree that the Oakland Plantation area is the best general area for a new library/meeting center.
Tomorrow, I will look at the pros and cons of each of the nine individual sites within this region.