Old DHR building could be home to library
by David Atchison
PELL CITY — Danny Stewart, director of the city’s public library, said the former Department of Human Resources building could be ideal for a library.

“The shell of the building is perfect,” Stewart said Thursday.

The former DHR building is part of property jointly owned by the St. Clair County Commission and Pell City. The former St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital is also on the roughly 20-plus acre tract between Interstate 20 and Dr. John Haynes Drive.

The St. Clair County Commission approved a resolution Tuesday to transfer the deed to the property to Pell City. The Pell City Council must approve the agreement, which will include assuming a $4 million loan.

Mayor Joe Funderburg told the commission Tuesday that the city is in discussions with a company that would bring a wellness center to the property.

He said the former DHR building could house the city’s public library.

The DHR building was vacated in August 2009, after the facility suffered close to a half-million dollars in damages from a fire. The fire was set by an unknown arsonist who was never caught.

Stewart said the fire damage, which was not repaired, was contained to one wing of the building.

“The fire damage is minimal,” he said.

Stewart said the former DHR building is about three times bigger than the current library. He said the current library, next to City Hall, is about 5,000 square feet, and the former DHR building is about 15,000 square feet.

“All the money we have could be used to gut it, and to redesign the building,” he said. “I think it is designed so you can add on to the building later.”

Stewart said the heating and air conditioning unit is operational.

“I’ve been told all that has to be done is turn it on,” he said.

He said the facility is accessible from several different directions.

“There’s easy access from two to three directions,” Stewart said.

He said there is also adequate parking at the facility.

“The city is accomplishing several things (with attaining the deed to the property),” Stewart said. “It just seems to be the right fit.”

City Manager Patrick Draper said there is a master plan for the entire property, which includes commercial and public developments.

The property is inside Pell City limits on Dr. John Haynes Drive.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.

© 2012