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WATCH: Community draws line in the sand over proposed library

Big fight brewing over location
Posted: 5:08 PM, Jul 14, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-14 17:08:23-04

INDIANAPOLIS – There’s a controversy brewing in a northeast-side community, and some people there do not want to open this book in particular.

Brightwood residents and business owners say the controversy centers around a piece of land where a library might be built.

Its construction depends on the City-County Council and whether it will vote to move ahead and force businesses out of the area around 25th and Sherman.

As it stands, the Brightwood community does have a small Indianapolis Public Library in a shopping mall.

The plan, though, is to close the small library and build a new free-standing one, right across the street on a plot of land that’s owned by people who don’t plan on selling.

That includes Lum Woodard, owner and pastor of Greater King Solomon Baptist Church. He says the $60,000 he’s been offered for the land is not enough to relocate and reopen somewhere else.

“It could be devastating,” Woodard said. “We would have to close, because $60,000 wouldn’t even buy a house in this neighborhood.”

Sheena Schmidt, who owns several buildings in the area, says construction of the library would negatively impact those businesses, cutting off a crucial alley for deliveries.

"The alley is going to cause all these people to go out of business," Schmidt said. “It’s sad. It’s unbelievable what they’re doing.”

So Schmidt, Woodard and others say they are refusing to sell. But now, the library has gone to the City-County Council to ask for a vote in favor of using eminent domain.

On the other side, the neighborhood organization president – Amy Harwell – says it’s unbelievable these people won’t sell.

“This is stupid, plain-and-simple stupid,” Harwell said. “We shouldn’t have to take measures – eminent domain – to get this property. Most of the people who are saying it doesn’t need to be there don’t live in this community.”

The final decision will be left up to the City-County Council on Monday when the issue is introduced.

“(The) city council has to weigh in on whether the community interests outweigh the property owners’ desire to hold on to the property,” City-County Councillor Zach Adamson (D) said.

It could be another month before a vote on the issue, although the idea of eminent domain will be brought to the council on Monday.

The Indianapolis Public Library’s leaders say if they can get hold of the land, they would like to break ground on a new center by next summer, opening the library by 2018.

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