Alternate proposal for
new library floated
What seems certain is that a new Sevier County library will be built. When, where and how much it will cost are questions that were once certain but are now being reopened. County Commissioner Gary Cole (Gatlinburg) and others are now floating an alternate proposal in order to measure the opinions of county officials.
The current site selection by the river in Sevierville has drawn criticism for being in the river’s flood plain, as has the rising estimate of costs for basic site preparation. Issues over inadequate parking space available, and concerns over accessibility due to traffic have also contributed to the sluggish progress of the new library. With only one million dollars in funds set aside for the project, officials are looking at the new idea.
The concept being floated is to use the site at the intersection of Pittman Center Road and Newport Highway. The county already owns the property as part of an industrial park venture, though in recent weeks a newer industrial area has taken priority in marketing. Plans for a building with abundant square footage and in the million-dollar price range are in the file drawers of the Economic Development Council. The first spec building in the park cost about one million dollars with unfinished interior and yielded 25,000 square feet.
The process envisioned would be for the new building to be finished on this site and the old building, which is prime property on the bypass, would be auctioned off. The proceeds from the sale, estimated to be between $300,000 and a half million, would be added to a one time appropriation from the county that would together total one million dollars for finishing the new building’s interior, expanding the computer systems, and moving the resources from the old location to new.
There is expected to be resistance to the plan from various officials in Sevierville, though not having to produce any funds for the project might offset some of the loss of convenience. The site’s added selling point is that it moves the facility closer to New Center and Caton’s Chapel as well as being close to Sevierville schools.
No official proposals or resolutions have yet been put forth regarding the alternative plan, but the backers of the idea should be able to gauge a general head count of their fellow commissioners’ opinions in this hectic budget month. Public opinion of the change in location is expected to be the deciding factor.