East Baton Rouge Parish library leaders expect to receive a report later this month outlining potential locations for a long-discussed branch to serve the southeastern part of the parish.
The Library Board recently hired site selection consultant Leotta-Evers LLC to come up with the suggestions, after talks to put a library branch in the Rouzan neighborhood fell through and board members couldn’t agree on another location.
After talks fell through on two sites last year, the board restarted the process of evaluating potential locations. In December, board members decided to pay a consulting firm $15,000 to assist with the process.
Some members of the Metro Council have questioned the expense of hiring an outside consultant. Library Director Spencer Watts has defended the decision.
“It would be helpful in terms of finding sites that we may never find on our own,” he said.
The library has been proposed to serve a loosely defined area that stretches from Essen Lane on the east to Stanford Avenue to the west, and from Perkins Road on the north down to the river at its south.
Leotta-Evers’ report was expected to be presented to the board at its meeting last month, but Assistant Library Director Patricia Husband said the consulting firm needed more time to complete its analysis after receiving feedback from library staff.
“We gave him some feedback, and he’s refining it,” Husband said.
Victor Leotta, partner in Leotta-Evers LLC, said his firm would examine several data sets — existing library locations, traffic patterns, nearby offerings and other factors that could impact the library’s location.
“You want to make sure you can defend your location decisions based on the data,” he said.
In addition to work on the private-sector side, the firm previously has worked with the state economic development arm and the East Baton Rouge Parish Redevelopment Authority to locate properties.
Board members have said they know any site could draw public scrutiny, so they hope the consultant’s report will help defend the eventual location.
“We all understand that there will be some people that — no matter what site is selected — will never be happy,” Library Board Vice President Jason Jacob said during a recent meeting. “There’s only so much we can do as a board.”