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Commissioners want to buy Reynolda Manor Library property

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Forsyth County commissioners are hoping to buy the Reynolda Manor Branch Library. (Andrew Dye/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Forsyth County commissioners hope to soon purchase the Reynolda Manor Branch Library property, which should be welcome news to library patrons who feared earlier this year that the branch would be closed.

The commissioners will take a formal vote on Monday to authorize county staff members to execute a purchase agreement for the property, and a majority of the commissioners have indicated that they think the board will vote unanimously in favor of the proposal.

The item was added to Monday’s agenda following a closed session at a commissioners’ briefing on Thursday afternoon.

Deputy County Manager Damon Sanders-Pratt said the county has been working with Meridian Realty on the agreement to purchase the property at its current tax value – $994,800.

Commissioners said Thursday evening that they believe this will eventually lead to a cost savings for the county. The county has been leasing the property for about $132,000 a year.

“I think it’s a good deal,” Commissioner Dave Plyler said, noting that the county could have bought the library a few times over with the money it spent on rent over the years.

The county plans to pay for the project using proceeds it received from selling bed licenses for Springwood Care Center last year.

Commissioners Walter Marshall and Bill Whiteheart said the Reynolda branch is an excellent library location and that the cost to replace that branch would exceed the cost to buy the property.

Controversy arose last spring when the county allowed its long-term lease to expire, instead transitioning to a month-to-month lease. Heading into a tough budget season, it appeared the library could be at risk of closing if the commissioners needed to make some heavy budget cuts.

Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt was in favor back then of having a conversation to assess the county’s options at the library site. Whisenhunt said Thursday that she never wanted to see the library close, but she also didn’t want to see the county continue to lease the property.

“I just think it’s foolish for us to lease when we may have the opportunity to buy,” she said.

The library building used to be a movie theater, but it was remodeled in 1998 to be used as the Reynolda Manor branch. It is one of the most frequented library branches in the county, according to the commissioners.

“I think we’re committed to the library in that area,” Commissioner Mark Baker said.

The only other library property leased by the county is the Kernersville branch, but that agreement is a much different situation since the property is owned by the town.

By Meghann Evans/Winston-Salem Journal