The message is clear, but there’s still one major question: is the county going to fork over $4 million for a new library in Bonita Springs?
City Council voted 7-0 Wednesday in favor of a resolution they hope will force Lee County to either contribute to the library system or let Bonita Springs split off from the county system.
“We’re trying to get a definitive answer from the county so we can proceed,” Mayor Ben Nelson said.
City leaders and some residents say they deserve a new and better library. At least two Lee County Commissioners agree, but the county has yet to earmark funds for improvements to the existing 12,000 square foot facility at 26876 Pine Ave. Other options city officials have considered include tearing down the current 1980s-era structure down and rebuilding, or find another location in the city.
City officials earlier this year asked a library task force to assess their current facility. That group found the facility needed to be tripled in size with additional computers and community meeting rooms.
The task force also found that the city contributed $38 million to the Lee County library system over the last decade with a direct return of only $14 million.
“I think we need a new building,” Councilwoman Martha Simons said before the vote. “That one’s been renovated too many times.”
Simons said she’d like the city to consider building a new facility at the old Bamboo Mobile Village, a vacant piece of land that straddles the Imperial River on the east side of Old 41 Road.
She said the city could even lease out part of the building to the county for a tax collector’s office or even a new Sheriff’s substation.
“It could be a one-stop hub that would bring traffic to that area,” Simons said.
Some residents and groups have spoken in favor of a new library, but Bonita Springs resident Ursula De La Rosa said the current facility works just fine for her.
“I think it’s a waste,” De La Rosa said while standing outside the library Wednesday morning. “Nobody has any money right now. It’s all the same for the taxpayers. It’s still spending money.”