GAINESVILLE – Hall County commissioners will vote Wednesday on approving the submission of a grant application with the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia Public Library’s Capital Outlay Grants Program for funding for the construction of the proposed East Hall Library Branch.
In recent years the county applied for and received funds for the expansion project currently underway at the downtown Gainesville Main Branch. The grant application under consideration Wednesday is for the maximum amount allowed, $2-million.
County officials say in order to be competitive with other library systems seeking grant money the application needs to be submitted as soon as possible so the project can be placed on the potential project waiting list.
The application involves matching funds that the county will need to provide (which has been voter authorized under SPLOST VIII), but those funds are not required until the Hall County Library System approves construction.
Even if the funding is awarded by the Board of Regents Hall County is under no obligation to accept and use the grant money should county or library system plans change.
Assistant Hall County Administrator Marty Nix said after Monday’s County Commission work session, “This is simply a placeholder to get us in place with the state and possibly help enhance that funding. There is no commitment.”
The county estimates the cost of the building at $3-million excluding land acquisition. Preliminary estimates are for the East Hall Library to be between 6,000 and 11,000-square feet, depending upon construction costs at the time the project is approved.
Hall County Library Director Lisa MacKinney said the project is likely a long way off but would need to be finished before the six-year life of SPLOST VIII expires. “Right now I’m just working on the program plan which is trying to figure out what would be the priorities there.”
MacKinney said she likes how the library in the North Hall Community Center has served the needs of that part of the county. “We’re going to need something about the size of the North Hall Branch,” MacKinney said after the commission work session. “It’s worked so well; it’s been such a success, so we would be thrilled with something along that line.”
She said using the East Hall Community Center in a similar fashion might not work. “They have been a very gracious partner to us - we do some programming out there now – but I don’t know that there would be room in that existing space to duplicate that.”
Hall County presently operates five library locations: downtown Gainesville, the North Hall Tech Center, the Murrayville Library, the Blackshear Place Library and the Spout Springs Library.