The Apalachicola city commission has decided the former Apalachicola Municipal Library should be used by the Philaco Woman's Club, but the woman’s club won’t be leasing it.
Instead, they will be licensed to use it.
At the May meeting, following a presentation by Ginny Griner, a past president of Philaco, the commissioners voted unanimously to okay what they thought would be a long-term lease of the property, at Sixth Street and Avenue D, on what is Gorrie Square.
“We’re asking for consideration to start that conversation,” said Griner, suggesting an initial term of five years, with an option to extend after that.
“Our monies are limited so the lease and rent payment would be negotiable,” she said.
She said Philaco, which dates back to 1896 and was instrumental in starting the original library in 1899, and in creating the Gorrie Square building in 1963, would not ask for any improvements of the building by the city.
“If we’re allowed to use the building, we could display and store our rich history under one roof,” Griner said.
She said Philaco would use the building for its activities, and pay for all utilities, as well as maintain the lawn and interior, but not be responsible for maintaining the parking area.
Griner said the club, which has about 60 members, “would like to expand the bathroom to increase its size and improve accessibility, increase the size of the electrical room/storage closets and add an efficiency kitchen.”
At the time Mayor Van Johnson noted that in Dec. 2015, the city had agreed to a resolution that would restrict any changes to the city’s historic squares.
“As long as we keep that in mind we’re good,” Johnson said. “You know what the risk is and if you’re willing to take it we’re willing to give it you.”
At Tuesday evening’s meeting, the issue of leasing came up at the usual routine opening of the meeting, when the commissioners approve the minuets of their last meeting.
Johnson said that because of the wording of the 2015 resolution to preserve the city squares, the term “lease” might be in conflict with the stipulation that the city not make any long-term commitment for the city squares.
County Attorney Pat Floyd then suggested a legal stratagem to avoid such a conflict, bu changing the commission’s action to licensing, rather than leasing, the former library site.
“A license can be given to someone to do certain functions, and does not have the same commitment as a lease and gives more control by the city,” he said.
He said a licensing agreement would be drawn up which gives either party a 90-day or six-month right to terminate any arrangement. It also would give Philaco the right of first refusal in the event the city wanted to relocate the building.
The commissioners agreed to the change in their minutes.