Atlanta residents are buzzing about rumors that the Atlanta Central Library may be demolished.
These rumors came after the Atlanta City Council passed a resolution on Monday stating “the new Central Library for the Atlanta-Fulton Library System be constructed at its present location of One Margaret Mitchell Square.”
But the resolution’s author said people are misunderstanding his intent.
“I’ve never favored doing demolition of the library,” Councilman C.T. Martin told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday. Rather, he said, he was simply proposing that that the main-branch of the library remain downtown – not necessarily on the same plot of land. He plans to rewrite the resolution to clarify.
“We’re going to amend it and change up the language so people don’t think we’re trying to tear it down,” Martin said.
The hitch is, the city council has no say in the matter anyway.
Dr. Gabriel Morley, the director of Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, told the AJC Wednesday that the fate of the downtown library is in the hands of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, and to the best of his knowledge, tearing down the current building is not an option they’re considering. Fulton County officials expect to either renovate the current 265,000-sq.-foot headquarters or sell it and build a new, smaller library at a different location.
Martin said the resolution was simply a way to share the city council’s opinion with the Fulton County Commissioners, as well as bring the issue to the public’s attention.
“Have the people who are all up in arms about this gone to the library board meetings? No, they haven’t,” Martin said. “Suddenly people have an interest in the library. To me, that’s good.”
Councilman Kwanza Hall, whose district includes the Central Library, has been fighting for this building from the start, though. He proposed that the resolution go to a committee for further review, but didn’t garner enough support to postpone the vote.
“It was so quickly framed and put up, I think it missed the point,” Hall said of the confusion surrounding Martin’s intent.
He’s glad this resolution has catapulted a building he cares about into the public interest, but wishes the discussion could focus more on how to revitalize the current structure, either as a library or other adaptive reuse building.
“I’ve seen what we can do with an old building,” Hall said, pointing to Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market as examples of the library’s potential. “The possibilities are endless. We shouldn’t be throwing away a great asset like this.”