The search for a location for a south Baton Rouge library will continue Thursday night after the Pennington Biomedical Research Center removed itself as an option, saying a library at the site is not in the center’s best long-term interests.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board of Control agreed at its September meeting to pursue the possibility of locating a branch library on the property along Kenilworth Parkway as an alternate location for the long-delayed library planned for the Rouzan development.
However, the board learned late Tuesday that the property is no longer an option, said Spencer Watts, the library system’s director.
The executive director of the research center, William Cefalu, said in an email that “Pennington Biomedical Research Center decided that selling property on its campus is not consistent with the best long-range interest of the institution. The property is best earmarked for research, medical related growth and promoting a healthy lifestyle.”
That means the issue of where to build a library in south Baton Rouge goes back to library board members for further discussion.
“The Rouzan (site) is still not off the table,” Watts said, although a vote to recommend the city-parish terminate an agreement for the site is on the board’s Thursday agenda.
A cooperative agreement with J.T. “Tommy” Spinosa from 2010 had Spinosa donating land at the proposed Rouzan mixed-use development to be used for a new library branch. Progress on the development has been delayed by a number of issues.
The board has expressed frustration about the slow pace and started looking at alternative sites.
The agreement says that if the board decides to build the library somewhere else, the donated land goes back to Spinosa.
The library service area in question runs generally from Essen Lane on the east, Perkins Road to the north, Stanford Avenue to the west and down to the Missippi River to the south. The closest branch libraries to the service area are the ones on Bluebonnet Boulevard and the Carver library downtown.
Watts said it’s possible that the library board could re-examine some of the 21 sites identified in the service area back in August and September.
There were a number of options but the locations that were good were very expensive while other areas weren’t as expensive, but weren’t as good either, he said.
The board could look at a different type of branch construction and configuration to help allow for a greater choice in location, he said.
For example, building a two-story building rather than a one-floor building would allow for the board to look at some smaller pieces of land that were passed over in previous reviews.
“We have not totally explored all the options,” Watts said. “We’ll get some more direction from the board.”
The library board will meet at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at the BREC Administration Building board room, 6201 Florida Blvd.