For those you who have never seen Parks and Recreation the setting of this blog may be harder to visualize. You should watch a couple episodes and then return to this post.
All set? Ok here we go.
After a looooonnnnnnggggg period of waiting, dealing with highest and best bidding, and more waiting, and more waiting, the East Providence City Council was finally meeting. The vote determining the new owner of the library was here.
The vote came toward the end of the meeting, at about 9:30 PM., i.e. after about 3 hours of me having an internal nervous breakdown in my chair. The commissioner began reading his report, and, as anticipated, recommended that the city council vote to approve the sale in my favor. Mechanically, each council member “aye-d” approval in turn when their name was called. I was beginning to relax, watching them go through the motions, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman leap up out of her seat and run toward the front of the room. “May I speak?” she demanded.
She was the second highest bidder for the property and she had props. Literally. Props. As in a full slideshow of her vision for the design studio she wanted to have in the library. The council listened patiently while I clung to my chair and hyperventilated.
Then another member of the audience stood. “May I speak?” he asked. The council members stared at one another questioning, until finally one asked out loud, “I don’t know. Is this a public hearing?”
I sort of fell out of my chair. This was not happening.
The bewildered council finally decided that yes, let the guy speak. Thank god. He was, it turns out, my future neighbor. And he had plenty to say too, about the neighborhood residents’ collective desire for the library to be limited to residential use.
So how did it finally all wrap up? You can watch here:
The library voting begins around 1:10 in the council meeting recording. I get up to the podium and make a bit of a fool of myself at 1:24. Enjoy! Don’t’ laugh at me too hard!
May 16, 2013.
Shamila and I marched into East Providence City Hall, offer package in her hands. Shamila was looking lovely and confident as always; I was about to vomit and or break into a sweat, and/or do both at the same time. We had already determined that it would be a good idea for her to do all the talking; I am entirely useless where my own personal transactions are involved. Once we tracked down the city planner, she placed my full price offer in his hands and briefly summarized its’ content. “So,” she concluded, “what are our next steps?”
The City Planner appeared a bit lost. “Well,” he began, “actually we have not established a procedure for this yet and are still working out the process.” Huh? “We will probably keep the bidding open for a few weeks and see what else comes in.” WHAT?
So that is how I essentially had to out-bid myself to get the property. From day one, every other interested buyer knew that there was a full price offer on the table. And yes, there were a lot of other crazy people like me who wanted to take on the project. But who doesn’t enjoy an overly emotional bidding war from time to time?
“We have to keep them all,” my 8-year-old self demanded.
My mother, slightly exasperated and attempting to get my bedroom packed up into boxes for moving day, sighed tiredly. “You have plenty of books. And you have already read these ones.” Adamant, I informed her: “When I grow up I am going to own a library with lots of books. So we have to keep them until then.”
My mother will tell anyone we know embarrassing stories of the youthful beginnings of my overconfident ambitions. We never could have guessed that I would get that particular proclamation right. (I can however concede that I am probably never going to be a Supreme Court Judge, a geneticist or an astronaut).
The Library plan was a long forgotten childhood memory until earlier this year. I was finally home after a particularly long day cooking dinner, and Shamila was interrupting my night with a crazy phone call about a vacant library in Rumford. “Trust me,” she said. “Just go drive by.”
I was tired, and at loss to connect why I should be concerned with a city library at that particular moment. We didn’t have a client looking for a library did we? No one came to mind. Shamila, however, is the most confident, intuitive and determined woman I have ever met. And she knows how to push my buttons. Five minutes after we hung up I was in the car taking the 20 minute drive over to Rumford.
I am delighted to announce the commencement of my Library Project; the restoration and conversion of the historic Rumford Library into my home. I am inviting all of you to share with me the disasters that are sure to ensue during the Project on my blog “rumfordlibraryproject.com”