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With a population that has doubled during the past decade, a median household income of $150,000 a year, and a $700,000 price tag on the average home sold in 2000, Colleyville is one of the most affluent communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Small wonder folks refer to it as Colleywood, with high-profile residents that include actress Janine Turner and Texas Rangers Ivan Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro. But Colleyville also has another distinction: It is the richest community in Texas without a library.
Not that its 21,000 citizens aren’t trying. The problem has been studied by at least four committees over the past eleven years. Last year construction finally started on the new Village Center, which is designed to include a new city hall as well as the library. “Voters have approved the bonds, a sales tax was passed, land has been donated, and sixty-eight percent of our residents pay a dollar extra per month on their water bill for library funding,” says Mayor Donna Arp, who is running for reelection on May 5.
So why does the library remain the most contentious issue in the upcoming election? Well, the only thing that can stop its construction now is the mayor, who can veto any contract over $15,000. Enter a reluctant city council led by Mike Taylor, a councilman running for Arp’s job. He is a fiscal conservative who has questioned spending $3.5 million on the project. Taylor believes that private funds should have been used or that a regional library should have been built. “We have one of the highest TAAS scores in the state—if not the highest—and a well-educated citizenry,” he said at a council meeting last year. “We have the highest per-household income. We have the highest home prices in the cotton-pickin’ area. We’ve done all that without a library. We have the battle cry ‘We’re unique. We’re different. We’re special.’ That might be one of the reasons.” Though polls indicate that citizens overwhelmingly approve of the project, until the library is a done deal, maybe the battle cry should be, “We learn real good without books.”