The new library is set to be the very first library in District 1, a long-awaited accomplishment for many advocates. As a modern library system, is is described as not only providing physical materials, but electronic resources and virtually access materials as well. The library’s stated goal is to provide equity of access via technology and family programming. Due to its close proximity to schools, it is predicted to have high foot traffic, which the county estimates will bring in around “500 people per day.”
Some West Pensacola residents are indeed pleased a library is finally being built, but are questioning the priority of the project when other needs appear to be going unmet. Joel Cotton, from West Pensacola, said that he thinks “a new library is a great asset for the community,” however sees other needs that take priority. “Infrastructure needs attention. Our fire department is in sad shape with staff shortages, equipment that needs replacement, and fire stations that need attention.”
Debbie Fox is a resident of Bellview who lives about 1/2 mile from the construction site of the Bellview library. Both Debbie and her husband, Joe, feel there are other priorities that rank higher than the construction the new library, which Escambia County broke ground on just over a week ago.
“A few years ago, we were told that the county was unable to cut the grass around their holding pond. We were told by our commissioner that the county did not have the equipment to cut it. The county still does not cut this grass,” Debbie explained. Her husband, Joe, personally cuts the grass along the outside of the fence in an effort to improve the aesthetics of their Bellview neighborhood. Debbie asks, “Could we maybe get some mowers with that 4.5 Million to help keep Pensacola looking nice?”
Ms. Fox also voiced concerns about retainment ponds not draining property, as well as the funding, staffing, and response time of EMS services.
“When someone calls 911 they have an emergency…they NEED someone to answer, not hear someone say ‘please hold.’ We need to have the personnel to answer these calls. These people are putting their lives on the line for us…. could you use some of the 4.5 Million to fix this huge problem?”
Other residents remain excited about the library, however. “I’m very excited about this library coming to Bellview, I’ve been waiting 50 yrs for this happen, it’s about time!” wrote William Lingo.
Commissioner Jeff Bergosh was optimistic about the cost-efficiency of utilizing an empty building (the old Wells Fargo building) and shared this thoughts previously at the groundbreaking ceremony, “One of the things that I always wanted to see happen in District 1 was for us to have our own public library. We’re the only district of five that did not have one….We’re taking a building that wasn’t being used and we’re now going to repurpose it for a good use…. Hopefully and eventually, there will be more than just a library.”