Baldwin County cancels lease on 'unsafe' library building

By GUY BUSBY
Government Editor
guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 7/8/22

BAY MINETTE — Calling the facilities "unsafe and unsanitary," the Baldwin County Commission canceled the five-year lease on the Baldwin County Library Cooperative building after less than seven …

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Baldwin County cancels lease on 'unsafe' library building

Posted

BAY MINETTE — Calling the facilities "unsafe and unsanitary," the Baldwin County Commission canceled the five-year lease on the Baldwin County Library Cooperative building after less than seven months of use.

The commission voted unanimously Tuesday, July 5, to cancel the lease on the office on First Avenue in Loxley.

"We're getting out of that lease agreement with the libraries," Commission Chairman Jeb Ball said.

The staff recommendation on the agenda said the building should be closed.

"At this time the leased premises have been determined to be in unsafe and unsanitary condition and therefore unfit for occupancy which deprives the county of beneficial use and enjoyment of the leased premises. Staff recommends the commission terminate the lease agreement," the recommendation stated.

The county leased the building in Loxley for five years in October 2021. The lease payment was $1,200 a month.

Ron Cink, acting county administrator, said the county will have to find space to store the books and other items now located at the Loxley office.

"We're going to have to swap some storage space where we can put the books," Cink said. "The building right now is collapsing, unfortunately."

Cink said he and Commissioner Charles "Skip" Gruber were looking at a building in Seminole that might be used to store the books until a permanent office for the cooperative could be found.

Commissioner Billie Jo Underwood said county officials need to look at a new home for the cooperative and other needs of the facility.

"I talked with a couple of the board members on Friday, and they want some clarity about the cooperative," Underwood said. "I think we're just a little bit premature right now. We've got to get busy, the holiday kind of interrupted that, but what we want to do is be supportive and make sure that we're making the right decision so the cooperative can be the support mechanism that they are created to be."

Contacted after the commission vote, Elizabeth Webb, cooperative director, said she had no comment and referred questions to the commission.

A notice on the cooperative's website said the office was closed, but the group is continuing to operate the county bookmobile and courier services between the 13 libraries in the county system.

The cooperative had operated from an office in the Baldwin County Annex in Robertsdale for about 20 years before moving to the Loxley location in December.

The cooperative is a non-profit membership network which offers books and serves as central hub for the county's public libraries.

The BCLC also provides the courier service to move books and other materials between members maintaining a shared collection of more than 500,000 items between the libraries.

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