The James Island branch of the Charleston County Public Library has been a bustling and beloved place on James Island. Children in the summer crowd the castle to watch the weekly performers, and parents and teachers stock up on children’s books year-round. Seniors and job-seekers make good use of the Internet, and the availability of wi-fi on premises means that there are many patrons with laptops making use of the connectivity.
For many years we have known that the small branch has outgrown its space. But the location has been ideal for James Island. If you look at a map, it is surprisingly central to the town. That is why, when CCPL director Doug Henderson told the community that he was asking them to vote yes on the 2014 building referendum, James Island residents had some concerns about where this library would end up. They were assured that it would continue to be convenient to its patrons.
But County Council appears to be disagreeing with the library board’s recommendation. Research indicated that, based on cost and convenience, the vacant building at the Bi-Lo Shopping Center on Folly Road would be the most favorable location. It is on the main road, accessible by bus, and at a traffic light. It is not far from both middle schools and the high school. The building has been vacant for some years now. County Council could make a strong and positive statement if it were to choose to turn this location into a beautiful and busy community center.
Rather, the majority of members seem to be committed to a site on South Grimball Road. It is very nearly the edge of James Island, and to get there would mean traveling in stop-and-go traffic on Folly Road during prime library use hours. It will also disrupt a quiet neighborhood and an historic site.
I don’t understand why these members of County Council are refusing to listen to the library board, or take action to improve James Island through wise land use. But this is a critical decision, and council will be debating — possibly voting — on it on Tuesday, June 16. I hope the residents that will be affected by this decision will turn out and speak up before it is too late.