by Jason Wright / Appen Newspapers
February 25, 2009 A group of Alpharetta and Milton citizens believe they have the perfect site for the proposed 25,000-square-foot Alpharetta Library slated to replace the existing facility on Canton Street — and to prove it they held a public support meeting Feb. 19 at North Park's Adult Activity Center.
The site, which is 6 acres and sits on Ga. 9 at the corner of Main Street and Winthrope Park Drive, is one of a few being considered for the new library including the proposed City Center and old Milton High School. Library Director John Szabo also said it has been proposed the collection be housed in the old Ingles building in the Stoneview Commons shopping center, but that is unlikely.
Zainab "Zee" Mirzaie, who lives in Winthrope Park subdivision abutting the site, helped organize the meeting with Friends of the Alpharetta Library (FOAL) board member Doug Davisson. She said she decided to get involved after receiving notices in the mail that the county was planning on making a decision on where to put the new site. She decided to take a grass roots approach, which Alpharetta Councilman Jim Paine, who was in attendance, lauded."The addition of a library at 495 N. Main Street will greatly enhance the positive environmental quality and charm to the surrounding area, and add great pride to the community with the display of an impressive structure for everyone to see on a major thoroughfare," she wrote in an e-mail sent out to surrounding residents."There are other choices," said Davisson, who was acting on his own behalf and not in any official capacity for the FOAL board. "But we believe this is the best site."
At the meeting Szabo and Scott Graham, head of staff for Fulton County Commissioner Lynne Riley, took prepared questions from e-mails and some from the roughly four dozen audience members in attendance. Szabo said of the eight new libraries planned after the November passing of the library bond referendum, only three have definite sites. All those have been donated, he said, so the system must look at a number of sites for the other facilities. And that means public input."Our ears are wide open," he said. "[At this point] it's not about numbers or votes. The best thing to do is talk about the positive aspects of the site."
Szabo said the site should be selected by the fall, and is recommended to the Library system's Board of Trustees, who then make recommendations to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.
They vote on the ultimate site.Graham said the best thing for citizens to do is to be vocal — starting at the Board of Trustees meetings."Make your opinions known there, then make your way to each and every Board of Commissioners board member, as they all vote."Szabo concurred."We need to know why this site would be the best for Alpharetta," he said. That prompted one audience member to speak up."Because I would prefer a library to a mini mall," he said. It got a hearty round of applause.
Graham also warned folks to maintain their support and energy, because the wheels of government move slowly."This is a marathon, not a sprint," he said. "This is not going to be a decision that's made in 30 days."
Mirzaie welcomed the challenge and promised the community's support even after the new facility is built."You've got a group of people here who are willing to volunteer and be a part of the new library community," she said.