I am writing this rebuttal to the opinion piece written by Belgrade News staff writer Karen Davis from Sept. 2 as a longtime Belgrade resident and treasurer of the Belgrade Library Foundation.
I have resided here over 30 years, teaching at the Belgrade Intermediate School for 20 of those years. I have been a city councilwoman for eight years, a Belgrade Community Library Foundation member and officer for six years, and was a library trustee four years. I am a member of several boards and committees both in the public and private sector to best serve the interests of our growing community. My husband was the Belgrade city manager for 23 years until his death in 2013. Our son graduated from Belgrade High School and lived with us while earning his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from MSU. He and his wife moved back to Belgrade five years ago after he was offered a faculty position at MSU. Our roots run deep in this community. I know and trust this community because I have lived here so long.
I want you to be informed about the Belgrade Community Library/Community Center plan that was incorrectly referenced in Davis’ op-ed. Speaking from the point of view of a city councilwoman and a Belgrade resident, the proposed plan is a fiscally conservative approach – the same approach that has been involved in building this community for the past 30 years. Repurposing the land that the city already owns and repurposing the old library building as a new police station will save Belgrade residents millions of dollars. This fiscally responsible repurposing is the same tenet that has saved taxpayers millions of dollars in the past – especially in the construction of the Belgrade City Hall.
There has been grand opposition to the idea that the city will be removing trees in Lewis and Clark Park as part of the renovation projects. Indeed, five trees will be removed during this process; however, when the new library is completed, there will be at least five or more diverse species of trees to take their place. On a personal note, for many years my family donated many trees that were planted in city parks by my fifth- and sixth-grade students in celebration of Arbor Day. Some of you may even remember when your kids planted trees in these parks and some of you may remember planting these trees yourselves. We all can rest assured that there will be at least as many trees in Lewis and Clark Park after construction has been completed than are in the park today.
We’ve had public forums to listen to all concerns and have addressed these concerns many times. We also recognize that there might be a small minority of people that are willing to put their own interests before the needs of the community in a way that will cost the community and her taxpayers $5 million. The vehicle for issues relating to tree removal and access has been in place and will continue to be in place as this project moves forward.
Please, when you prepare to vote on the bond issue on or before Sept. 14, be informed by the facts of the situation and not what a vocal minority wants you to believe. The proposed plan saves the taxpayers of Belgrade $5 million without the permanent loss of a single tree in Lewis and Clark Park.