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UPDATE: Omaha City Council approves downtown library move to Jones St.

Posted at 2:50 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 23:14:24-05

UPDATE: 5:37

After nearly two hours of discussion, Omaha's city council voted to move the downtown public library to 1401 Jones and move administrative services temporarily to 84th and Frederick St.

Several city council members felt there was not enough transparency in the process, a sentiment shared by many members of the public during public comments a week ago.

The vote comes after a week of major announcements from the city.

Last wednesday, a day after public input on the move, the Mayor Jean Stothert announced that Mutual of Omaha would be building a skyscraper where the current library sits.

“These proposed leases should never have been on our agenda until this larger vision was presented to the public," said Councilmember Pete Festersen. "There’s obviously a connection. There were dozens of folks that testified here last week and didn’t have the benefit of that information.”

Some said they feared that a vote no would mean the downtown area would go without a library either temporarily or permanently. This is because the W. Dale Clark Library is going to be torn down to make room for the Mutual of Omaha’s new headquarters.

“I don’t think we want to move forward with plans to continue to grow an approve our downtown without a library," said Councilmember Brinker Harding. "And I fear that without approval of these leases, I fear that that’s probably what happens.”

The council ultimately did approve the lease agreement for 1401 Jones with a 4 to 3 vote. Pete Festersen, Don Rowe, Brinker Harding, and Aimee Melton voted in favor. Juanita Johnson, Danny Begley and Vinny Palermo voted no.

They also approved the lease agreement for 84th and Frederick, with a 5-2 vote. Councilmembers Festersen, Rowe, Harding, Melton and Begley voted to approve. Councilmembers Johnson and Palermo voted against the resolution.

All councilmembers voted in favor of appointing the Noddle Company to manage the move.

Several citizens who spoke against the move last week during public comment, and they wrote over 100 emails asking the council to vote no today. They were upset about the final decision.

“What we have seen through this process, the constant disregard for public input, the lack of transparency , the prioritization of the needs of billion dollar corporations over the people of Omaha is the reason why I will be leaving Omaha, and the reason why your talented, smart and dedicated young people are leaving Omaha," said Noemi Gilbert.

SEE MORE: Mutual of Omaha skyscraper to replace downtown library

You can watch council meeting below or on our Facebook.

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