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    Agency seeks new roof for library

    Instead of patching the roof of the 15-year-old Palm Harbor Library, the community wants the County Commission to replace it.

    By ROBERT FARLEY

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2001


    PALM HARBOR -- There's an inside joke among librarians, said Palm Harbor library director Gene Coppola: "It's not a library unless it leaks."

    Put the Palm Harbor Library on that list.

    "The leaks are becoming worse and worse," Coppola said. "You can do a patch-up job or bite the bullet and get a new roof."

    The Palm Harbor Community Services Agency has decided on the latter. In a preliminary budget presented to the Pinellas County Commission in a workshop Monday, the agency requested $100,000 for replacement of the roof and some air-conditioning equipment.

    "It's not glamorous, but it's something that needs to be done," Coppola said.

    The other big-ticket capital improvement tapped for next year's budget is to create a Reader's Garden at the library, at 2330 Nebraska Ave. That means shade trees and benches in the green spaces around the library property.

    What's outside now is lawn and parking spaces.

    "Blah," Coppola said.

    "Why limit yourself to four walls?" he said. "I think it will enhance the property."

    The project, which is projected to cost $14,300, would be an extension of the interior of the library, said Mike Smith, chairman of PHCSA.

    "It would give people an opportunity to go outside, to read under shade trees," Smith said.

    The preliminary budget presented to the County Commission Monday calls for keeping the real estate tax rate the same for both library and recreation services in Palm Harbor. The tax rate is .25 of a mill for each service, or 50 cents in tax for each $1,000 of assessed, non-exempt property value. For example, the agency's tax rate would mean $50 in PHCSA taxes for someone who owned a $125,000 home and had a $25,000 homestead exemption. That hypothetical tax bill does not include taxes levied by the County Commission, School Board, Southwest Florida Water Management District or other taxing authorities.

    Although the budget will not be presented in detail until late summer, PHCSA presents a preliminary budget in the spring outlining spending and major capital projects.

    The library roof replacement project moved to the head of the list due to the increased problems with water leaks. No books or other materials have yet been damaged, Coppola said, and "I don't want to wait until something happens." The library is 15 years old, which is about the life of the roof, Coppola said.

    On the recreation side, the PHCSA board anticipates a carry-over of $20,000, which it has earmarked for replacement of a wood fence at the Putnam complex and renovations to the equipment storage barn.

    A project to build a new roller-hockey rink at Sunderman Recreation Complex, though delayed, is still expected to be completed this year. If not, Smith said, it will be rolled into next year's budget.

    The rink is in the site plan and architectural design. There has been some delay to the project resulting from difficulties with the originally proposed location of the rink. It would have required the relocation of a volleyball court and a maintenance tent, Smith said. A new location on the site has been proposed.

    - Staff writer Robert Farley can be reached at (727) 445-4185.

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