Plans in the works to relocate Welty

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Jackson’s flagship library could soon have a new home, at least temporarily.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the city is planning to relocate the Eudora Welty Library to the Metrocenter Mall.

The move would be temporary, until a permanent location could be found, he said.

He didn’t set a date for when the move would be made.

Meanwhile, the city and Hinds County are planning to relocate the Hinds County Emergency Operations Center and the city’s real time crime monitoring center to a facility at 2304 Riverside Dr.

Currently both services are located in Welty’s basement.

“If you go into the basement of Welty today, you will see we have cameras set up for the Real-Time Crime Center, but it was never supposed to be permanent,” Lumumba said. “Once we get that out, it will put us closer to shutting down Welty.”

The Riverside facility was previously home to the Pearl River Basin Development District headquarters, which ceased to exist in 2018.  

The facility is owned by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Lumumba said the agency is working to transfer the building’s deed to the city.

“DFA (the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration) is going through the building to make sure it’s in working order,” he said. “We’re just waiting.”

Both announcements come more than a year after Welty was temporarily shut down by the State Fire Marshal for numerous code violations.

Since reopening, the library has continued to operate, but fire marshal directives have restricted building use and hours of operation.

Today, the branch’s second floor remains off limits to patrons. Additionally, Welty is no longer open until 9 p.m. on weekdays. Instead, the branch is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The library is located in the old Sears building, at 300 N. State St.

The facility has been plagued with problems in recent years, including leaks caused by a bad roof replacement job.

Jackson-Hinds Executive Director Patty Furr discussed Welty’s structural issues at the library system’s 2020 budget hearing.

“The only thing keeping the library from going under – we have 25 70-gallon trash cans. Our facilities staff man the trash cans 24/7,” she said.

“If we have rainy weekends, my staff has to be up there. If they’re not, the books will be wet.”

As for the Welty building itself, Lumumba said the city has several options. “A few proposals have been made. One is to sell it. One is to knock it down to make a better atmosphere around the Two Mississippi Museums,” he said.

“We haven’t decided which is most beneficial for the city.”

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Evelyn Sanders Forkin, 86, died on Tuesday, December 10, 2019.

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1. He drove a blue ‘77 Chevy Nova in high school. 2. He played on Jackson Prep’s 1985 and 1986 state championship basketball teams.