Armidale is getting a new library and it could open before Christmas.
Fierce opposition failed to deter Armidale Regional Council administration Ian Tiley from adopting a recommendation to relocate the Armidale War Memorial Library to the Phoenix Centre at 1/182 Rusden Street in a Council meeting this morning.
Council’s interim general manager Greg Meyers scrambled senior staff just hours after the meeting to form a library project team.
And Dr Tiley said he expected to sign a contract before the end of the week.
“Today’s resolution is about delivering new infrastructure at a greatly reduced cost,” he said.
“It’s true that there is overwhelming support for a new library, that’s a given.
“Council can not afford almost $15 million to provide a DA approved library.”
Speaking against the motion, former Armidale mayor Jim Maher said the decision was “a shameful episode in the life of the Council”.
"Today is one of the saddest days of my public life," he told a gallery of about 30.
Dr Maher was one of three ratepayers to speak against the recommendation.
Former Council employee Steve Widders and Friends of the Library spokeswoman Kay Mill also slammed the decision.
“We live in a democracy … not a dictatorship Dr Tiley,” Mr Widders said.
“You’re making the wrong decision.
“You’re making a decision based on your inconsiderate and rather narrow-minded point of view.”
Ms Mill said her group’s strongest objection was its location.
“We are disturbed by your recommendation that Council purchase and refurbish the building at 1/182 Rusden Street,” she said.
“The removal of another vital service from the heart of the CBD could deal a blow to the centre of town from which it may not recover.”
The library debate has divided Armidale for more than a decade.
Mr Meyers said the community could be using the facility before Christmas.
“If we’re not in by Christmas, I hope we’re almost in,” he said.
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