The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 18, 2013

Marsha Miller, guest columnist: Library money would be better spent downtown

By Marsha Miller
Special to The Globe

ORONOGO, Mo. — Things have just gone from bad to worse. I am speaking about the done deal for the new Joplin Public Library as envisioned by the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. (also known as the 353 Commission).

 A March 12 article in The Joplin Globe indicates that the land for the library is to be leased from family members of the late Bob Jennings for 99 years, with options to buy the land in the future.

The lease payments are $13,916 a month for, the best I can tell from the article, 6.6 acres of land. 

Yearly lease payments based on the stated $13,916 per month are $166,992. If the land is leased for only 10 years, the total would be $1,669,920. For 20 years, the total would be $3,339,840. You get the idea — just keep multiplying and multiplying and multiplying. 

When this proposal for the new library was first mentioned, no one in a position to nix the idea had anything to say about the many, many people in the downtown area who do not have transportation and are able to utilize the library by simply walking to the library.

 No, this proposal was not for the less fortunate among us; this proposal was for the more fortunate among us and possibly to put a feather in the caps of the city officials of Joplin and, dare I say, David Wallace, CEO of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, Joplin’s contracted master developer.

Huge sums of money that are being talked about for the leasing (and possibly eventual purchasing) of the land and for the actual expense of building the library (Wallace said the financing budget involves $20 million in grant money from the federal Economic Development Administration plus $17.5 million in revenue bonds from a tax increment financing district the city approved last month).

With that kind of money, maybe several stories could have been added to the present building with an elevator in each corner and one in the middle of the floors (money seeming to be no object).

Then the city of Joplin could have bought (or, heck, leased for 99 years at maybe less than $13,916 per month) a lot or two to provide parking for library users, and in addition, had a trolley vehicle (or two — again, money seeming to be no object) stationed during library hours at the lots to provide free transportation for those who could not walk one or two blocks to the library.

The $40 we pay each year to use the library is the best use of $40 we ever spend, and we are thankful and proud of the wonderful resource the library is to our area.

 I am not saying that the library does not need more space and does not need to be accessible to those with physical liabilities. But seriously, it seems that there were other options available.

The money being spent for the library, regardless of the source from which it comes, is all, in one form or another, a tax — either directly or indirectly.

But alas, it’s a done deal — just keep multiplying and multiplying and multiplying. This will keep all of us busy for quite a spell.

Marsha S. Miller lives in Oronogo.