City, library system to determine who will pay to fix Welty’s faulty air conditioning

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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – It’s unclear when the air conditioning will be repaired at the Eudora Welty Library, with city of Jackson leaders now saying they don’t know who is responsible for the repair.

The downtown library has been closed several times this month due to problems with the air conditioning system.

It was closed again on May 25, according to the Jackson/Hinds Library System website. It also closed early on May 24 and was closed all day on May 23, again due to “air conditioning issues”.

Jackson’s administrative manager Louis Wright told WLBT on Friday that the city is conducting an assessment to find the cause of the problem and “will determine how we go from there.”

Now the city is trying to determine whether the repairs should be the responsibility of the city or the library system itself.

“We haven’t determined how we’re going to deal with it,” Wright said. “We have a meeting with the Jackson/Hinds Library System to discuss this further and come to an agreement.”

Wright said the meeting would be held at the end of this week or the first of next week.

In the meantime, he said city leaders are looking for a copy of the operating agreement between Jackson and Jackson-Hinds to clarify the responsibilities of both parties.

Documents and news reports show that the subject of library maintenance is not new.

Last July, WLBT reported that the Richard Wright Library had been closed for over a year due to a $2,000 plumbing problem at the South Jackson branch.

Kim Corbett, who was the acting director of the library system at the time, said the Wright building was owned by the city and therefore the city was responsible for its repair.

However, a year earlier, the Lumumba administration had refused to make repairs to the facility, saying JHLS was responsible.

JHLS’ current executive director, Floyd Council, could not be reached for comment.

Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote thinks Jackson should make the repairs and the city should better maintain its buildings or start selling them.

“It highlights the real problem – citizens can’t use the facilities because we haven’t taken care of them in a way that we’re supposed to take care of them,” he said. .

More than 28,000 books were checked out of JHLS’ flagship branch in 2019, according to figures provided by the Mississippi Library Commission, making it the third-most-used branch of JHLS’s 13 branches.

Jackson/Hinds was established in 1986 as an agreement between the City of Jackson and Hinds County.

Under the terms of the agreement, the library board would be responsible for the “proper operation, care and maintenance” of library buildings, “including but not limited to utilities, telephone, yard and grounds maintenance, repairs, placements, janitorial and security services.”

The agreement also stipulated that the city had the option of maintaining the buildings in the city “instead of having this responsibility assumed by the board of directors” and that it was to notify the library board of its decision at the beginning of each fiscal year. financial.

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