Pace library to recieve $300,000 for meeting room

Ramon Rios | @RamonrSrpg | 850-623-2120 | rrios@srpressgazette.com
Pace Library manager Terri Urquhart stands in a corner of the library used as a makeshift meeting room. [Ramon Rios\SRPG]

PACE — The director of Library Services for Santa Rosa County, Gwen Wilson, received some welcome news from the county administrator, Dan Schebler recently. The county has approved $300,000 from the Local Options Sales Tax (LOST) to fund a meeting room for the Pace Library.

"We Have a number of amazing programs and they are well attended in the Pace community," Wilson Said.

The county's library system operates the Gulf Breeze, Jay, Milton, Navarre and Pace libraries. Wilson said the Pace library is the only one without a meeting room.

"I have watched the number of children and adults attending our programs grow and grow," Wilson said. "We are going to continue and expand the library programs we offer."

According to the Friends of the Pace Library president, Tom Twarkins, the original plans called for a meeting room to be a part of the design. However, an increase in building costs caused the meeting room to be cut from the plans.

County administrator Dan Schebler said the meeting room was one of the items listed in Wilson's five-year strategic plan for libraries in Santa Rosa County. Schebler asked Wilson to prioritize the need for the meeting room and Wilson placed it at the top of the list. Schebler then took that information to the 10-member citizen’s committee board that oversees the LOST funds and the board approved the project up to $300,000.

"The next level is planning and design," Schebler said.

County staff is continuing with the scope of work and obtaining estimates and Schebler hopes to have a scope and fee proposal ready for the January commissioner's meetings.

Terri Urquhart, manager of the Pace Library said staff would use the meeting room mainly for library events but there is availability for nonprofit groups to use the facilities. Urquhart said she is happy to have this available to the wide variety of groups in Pace, and the new facility will allow the library to bring in more local community people like artists and authors.

According to the county website, the half-cent LOST provides an additional funding stream for the infrastructure needs of the growing county while reducing the reliance on property tax. The commission levies the LOST for a period of five years. The authorized usages for LOST funding are restricted to the following areas:

  • Capital equipment
  • Public facilities
  • Public safety
  • Recreation/natural resources
  • Transportation and drainage

For funding the meeting room, Schebler said the Pace library would fall under public facilities. Commissioners of each district selected the LOST citizen committee. Each commissioner chose two members for the board.