My goal is to prove you wrong,” former Wake County Commissioner and neighborhood activist extraordinaire Yevonne Brannon told us. “We’re gonna save the library. And when we do, we’ll have to get a glass of wine or something.”
Three days earlier, after a county commission meeting, we’d made the mistake of telling Brannon we didn’t think things looked good for the Athens Drive high school Library. Yes, the county had promised to try to negotiate with the school district to keep the library inside Athens Drive High School. Yes, the county had pledged to keep the library open during non-school hours after the current arrangement expires at the end of the month.
But county staff didn’t seem at all convinced that the school district, which is concerned about the security implications of letting randos wander into a high school, would bend. And the alternativesa part-time library or either building or leasing space for a new libraryall had their own drawbacks (“Anatomy of a debacle,” July 8).
Thus, our pessimism.
But then Brannon and the Save Athens Library crew turned out some 200 people for a Thursday night community meeting, almost all of whom wanted the library to keep its current hours and location. (One detractor, whose name we didn’t care enough to catch, went on anti-tax tirade that culminated in him asking if we were going to pay for his new roof. The other, Karin Evanoff, a member of Gov. Pat McCrory’s school-safety task force, worried about non-student lurkers and grown men hitting on her teenage daughter. She’d prefer the library open only when students aren’t there.)
And then Commissioner Caroline Sullivan presented a joint statement from the county and school board saying that the library could remain open at least until school starts on Aug. 7, then in non-school hours after that, and in the meantime they would try to come to a mutually beneficial agreement to keep the library in place.
“Our evaluation in the coming weeks will focus not only on the short-term needs of the community, but also how we intend to offer public library service in this area for years to come,” the statement read.
To be sure, this was a well-received first step, though there was some wariness about the library only staying full-time for a few more weeks. But all three commissioners in attendance (Sullivan, John Burns and Matt Calabria) voiced their support, a positive indication of the county’s intentions.
“We will reach a resolution of this,” Burns assured the audience. “I can’t promise you right now it will be exactly what you want.”
Even if there haven’t yet been any serious incidents, he continued, there’s still that one-in-a-million chance, the kind you see on the news where everyone says it couldn’t happen here. So the school district is right to be concerned.
“I’m an optimist,” Calabria added. “I think we can work everything out.”
If he’s right, Yevonne, well, you have our number. We’ll even spring for a box of chardonnay, which we’ll pick up on special at Walgreens, because you try living on a journalist’s salary.