Miami-Dade officials are having meetings across the county to discuss a proposal to move some libraries into public parks.
Small branch libraries lease space from private entities. If the proposal passes, some of those libraries would be closed and reopened in existing park facilities.
Voters will decide on the proposal in a referendum on November’s ballot.
The idea came from Commissioner Esteban Bovo from District 13.
His legislative director Alex Annunziato attended one of the town hall meetings at the North Dade Regional Library in Miramar. He said if the proposal is passed, the county could save around $1.7 million in rent.
“Although there will be maintenance cost that will be assessed by the parks department,” said Annunziato. “We believe that it will be less than what we are paying in private rent.”
But some people are concerned this combination will rob them of their public spaces. Barbara Falsey, director of the Urban Environment League, attended the meeting to express her concerns.
“Parks are public spaces that serve all residents and visitors for recreation, for leisure, for adventure and for family time,” she said. “I just don’t think it is fair for libraries or to parks to try to smash two programs in one site.”
Maribel Balbin, president for the League of Women Voters, opposes the proposal too. She says the combination is not compatible.
Two parks where libraries could open are Tamiami Park and Norman and Jean Reach Park.
The proposal would need the approval of two thirds of voters to pass.
More meetings will be held next week on Monday, June 23, at the Miami Beach Regional Library; Tuesday, June 24, Kendall Library; Wednesday, June 25, Miami Lakes Library; and Thursday, June 26, West Dade Regional Library.