Gates County Library site selected

Published 1:01 pm Friday, March 4, 2011

GATESVILLE – The decision of where to build the new Gates County Public Library has been made.

Following a lengthy closed session following their regularly scheduled meeting here Wednesday, the Gates County Board of Commissioners voted to accept an offer of free property at the site of the planned Merchant’s Commerce Center, located on US 158 across from Gates County High School.

According to Gates County Manager Toby Chappell, the property, up to three acres, was offered to the county by Kim Old and his business partners, landowners and developers of the Merchant’s Commerce Center.

In addition to that particular site, the Commissioners studied two other properties – one parcel located just north of the EIC Building on NC 137 and a tract of land on U.S. 158 Business east of Gatesville.

“We looked at various other sites inside the town of Gatesville, but could not get the landowners to agree to use that property or the property was unsuitable to meet the needs of constructing a new library,” Chappell said. “The three sites we ended up looking at were deemed the most viable.”

While gaining the property at no cost to the county was a driving force behind the decision to build the library across from the high school, Chappell said there was another element weighed on the final decision.

“This is another opportunity realized in which the commissioners have simultaneously addressed an infrastructure need (a new library) and advancing economic development inside this core area,” Chappell stated.

As far as a construction timetable is concerned, Chappell said none was ready at this time.

“It may be the summer before dirt is moved at that site,” Chappell noted. “There will be a timeline, but we’re not at that point in the process as of yet.”

In the meantime, LS3P Associates, LTD of Raleigh, the architectural firm chosen to design the new library, will hold a Community Vision Meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, in the main court room of the Gates County Courthouse, located at 202 Court Street in Gatesville.

The purpose of the Community Vision Meeting is to have an open public forum to discuss the selected site and to hear citizen’s ideas and visions on the new library.

Citizens are asked to limit their comments to three (3) minutes so everyone will have a chance to be heard.

Those unable to attend may forward their written concerns to the County Manager’s Office, Attn:  Community Vision Meeting, P O Box 148, Gatesville, NC  27938 or e-mail to

“Until the Vision meeting is over from where the architects will gain an understanding of what the citizens want, we do not know at this particular time of the size and scope of the project,” Chappell said, answering a question on what will determine the square footage needed for the new facility. “After learning what the citizens want in a new library, the architects will meet with the commissioners to determine the proper balance between those needs and the affordability of the facility.”

As a point of clarification, it was reported in a recent story published in this newspaper that the commissioners, in a meeting last year, opted against holding a countywide referendum to judge the citizen’s reaction to investing in a new library. The board did not vote against conducting a referendum.

Based on information provided by Bob Joyce, an elections law expert with the North Carolina Institute of Government…“The general rule is that a unit of government in North Carolina may call a referendum only if there is a statute that specifically authorizes that kind of referendum.  There is no statute that authorizes a county to call a referendum on the question of whether to build a library, so applying the general rule, the answer is no, the question of whether Gates should build the library cannot be put to a referendum.  It is the kind of question that is reserved to the commissioners for decision.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal