The City of Dallas purchased land on Greenville Avenue in 2006 to build a new Forest Green Library in Lake Highlands, and the proposal has the backing of District 10 Councilman Adam McGough and the Citizens Bond Task Force. So why is the project now in jeopardy?
Councilman Philip Kingston indicated he plans to oppose the new facility when the Dallas City Council votes June 28th, announcing via Twitter that the new Vickery Meadow library “is the only capital library need I support.” When the bond’s proposed expenditures came before the council in early June after years in the planning, he called the effort “slapdash” and said “there is a 100 percent chance we’re going to ignore some of your advice. Maybe all of it.”
Karen Blumenthal, Chairman of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library and District 10’s rep on the Municipal Library Board, called it “stunning to me,” given the level of planning and effort. “It feels like we are having to do this all over again. I just want to bang my head on a desk.”
Instead, Blumenthal hopes to spread the word that citizens still have time to advocate for libraries. “We have to really make some noise,” says Blumenthal, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, university professor and author of several books.
Forest Green is the smallest library in Dallas’ system with about 9,000 square feet and only 7 computers. The average Dallas branch is 15,000 square feet with 16 computers – important since internet access is a significant part of library services today. Modern Dallas libraries have two “classrooms” to accommodate 40 people each and an auditorium for 120, while Forest Green’s single community room seats 40 with a converted closet holding 8.
Forest Green serves 6 elementary schools and several nearby private schools, yet the children’s section has one table and four chairs. GED classes remain full, and they’d offer ESL if facilities were adequate. They have 25 potholed parking spaces, while modern libraries offer 70.
For Blen Hussain, winner of the Exchange Club’s annual A.C.E. Award (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence) and focus of Advocate’s Shining Student series, the fight for library funding is personal. The recent high school graduate made a plea in May to the council for help, particularly at Forest Green, which you may watch here.
I contacted Mr. Kingston, who represents District 14, to ask why he opposes the new Forest Green Library, but I got no response.
Blumenthal suggests emailing Mayor Rawlings and council members here and/or speaking directly to the council at their 9 a.m. public briefing on the bond Wednesday at City Hall. The council will vote on the bond package June 28th.
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