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The Metro Council on Wednesday, Nov. 14, approved buying land in the Rouzan development, northeast of the intersection of Glasgow Avenue and Tupelo Street. This sign and office are at Glasgow Avenue and Perkins Road, seen March 7, 2018.

The Metro Council has given the green light to spending $1.7 million to buy land in the Rouzan development to build a new south branch library.

The council approved a deal to buy the land from Engquist-Rouzan Commercial Development at its regular meeting on Wednesday, despite opposition from some residents.

Council members mostly said they saw having a new library there as an asset to the community.

But several residents who spoke against the deal said they thought land could be acquired more cheaply elsewhere. They also objected to the city-parish being required to pay $20,000 annually in homeowners association fees to be located inside the traditional neighborhood development. 

"That's part of being in a planned community like this," the library system's Director Spencer Watts said on Thursday. "There are certain amenities and features that need to be maintained so it's appropriate and fitting."

The library system has spent at least six years scouting sites and ironing out the details leading up to the purchase agreement. Rouzan, which is located off Glasgow Avenue, was originally eyed by the library system as a potential site in 2010 but the deal later fell through in 2013. 

Charles Landry, the project's developer, told city parish leaders Wednesday night there's been a lot of interest and support from the community to build a library in Rouzan. 

"We've gotten a lot of calls, and 10 to 1, anything dealing with Rouzan also involved them saying try to make the library happen," Landry said. 

Councilwoman Barbara Freiberg called the site the "perfect place" for a new branch, pointing out it's accessibility to people who live in the surrounding community and will be able to easily bicycle to the library if they choose to do so. 

"The facility is not only for the people of the neighborhood," she said. "It'll be a facility with meeting space the area can use as well."

According to the purchase agreement, the city-parish is paying $20 per square feet for the tract of land — holding to previous statements Landry made that the seller had lowered the price because the library would be an amenity to the community. The land is worth $25 per square feet, Landry previously said.  

The annual HOA fee will not remain fixed at $20,000 but will increase by certain percentages every three years based on fluctuations in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' consumer price index, the agreement states. 

"What are we getting out of it? Some street lights and them mowing the grass for us?" Phillip Fetterman told Metro Council questioned council members Wednesday night. "The library board can do that and it'd cost peanuts compared to the association fees." 

Once the agreement is finalized, Watts said, the city-parish will have to conduct an environmental assessment of the site before bids will go out to get an architect in place to design the new library. 

"We're still about two years out, or more, from having it built," he said.     


Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.