Library update

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Library update

Post by richdarb3 on Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:48 am

There have been some major changes in the library leadership. This has slowed progress temporarily but it should prove beneficial in the long run. Cindy Gremmels stepped down(but is still on the Board)as President and Mike Kujawski volunteered to take the position. He is a new member, joining the Board about 6 months ago. Our new Vice-President(and newest Board member) is Dan Olejniczak.

The Library Board approved an RFP for a fundraising consultant. It was released on January 31. They also held a Community Meeting to inform people about their progress. They wanted to provide an opportunity for community members to speak with trustees about their ideas for the library. The two men that own the remaining Main St. properties were in attendance and voiced their concerns/frustrations. They are hoping for the purchase of their properties as soon as possible. This makes sense as their properties are in disrepair and being close to the library and nothing else doesn't make them very attractive. The Buildings and Grounds Committee will be setting up a meeting with each of them to discuss their selling prices.

You may recall that the front stairs had fallen off the building when we were in Watertown for our meeting. Peg has met with a Structural Engineer and a "Soils" Engineer to determine why the front steps were sinking and shifting. It looks like they may have to disassemble the ledges, and the steps, and remove them from the front of the building. They will also have to remove about 4-5' of soil, add a drainage tile, and back fill the area. The engineer excavated down to the foundation of the steps and confirmed that the steps are supported by fieldstone/cobblestone. The foundation may or may not be reused...that will depend on it's condition. The engineer is confident that the Carnegie Building is structurally sound. It is just the area in front of the building that is compromised.

The library Board President and Vice President met with the Mayor January 20th. Due to the large number of agenda items for the Finance meeting, the library meeting was moved to February 13. There will be a discussion with Finance in closed session on that date. They did talk about the land purchases on January 20, with tentative discussions of a 60% City and 40% Library split (based on the referendum percentages for the project). The Mayor said that the city would negotiate the selling prices.

From our perspective, we feel that the purchase of the land is a very important first step. Without the land, the plan can not move forward. If they purchase the land and do not make a commitment to the library, they will have a sellable asset. This may be an opportunity for a Program Related Investment (PRI) for the foundation. It is too soon to know but the progress is moving in the right direction. We should know more following the February 13th meeting. We will try to address any questions you may have. Thank you.

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Re: Library update

Post by dqbecker54 on Sun Feb 05, 2017 10:48 pm

The only additional comment I would make to the letter from Peg is that Darby and I have a nice dialogue and relationship with the library folks and have communicated with the Mayor as well. It is encouraging that they now are opening the dialogue with the city and have discussed the purchase of the land as a first step. I think there is general agreement with all parties that it is up to the city to actively engage with a financial commitment.

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Re: Library update

Post by mtg569 on Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:06 am

Can someone please remind me where the land is relative to the current library and what the fair market value is on the land? ty!

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Re: Library update

Post by richdarb3 on Mon Feb 06, 2017 2:06 pm

One of the buildings is literally to the right of the library and the other is also close by and has land with it that the library needs. addresses:213 W. Main St. and 223 W. Main St. They are asking $189,000 and $445,000 respectively. There is no way that either property is worth as much as they are asking. It will be interesting to see what the city can negotiate. As a point of reference, the library address is: 100 S. Water St. This address reflects that the door on W. Main St. is no longer used. Water and Main intersect. Hope that is helpful.

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Re: Library update

Post by mtg569 on Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:01 pm

very helpful- thank you. What is going to determine which one they go with?

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Re: Library update

Post by richdarb3 on Tue Feb 07, 2017 8:54 pm

thanks for the question. Are you asking which building they will go with? They need both properties to do the expansion.

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Re: Library update

Post by cu4pza - Jill on Wed Feb 08, 2017 1:54 pm

Thank you for the update.

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Re: Library update

Post by dqbecker54 on Wed Feb 08, 2017 5:56 pm

I would like to take a moment to step back and take a look at where we have been and where we are going with this discussion, and consequently with our upcoming decisions.  

As the facilitator of the large project forum, I have posted questions that were intended to stir thought and discussion.  Some have been responded to and others have received little attention. I have also expressed some thoughts of my own which I tried to qualify when I presented them.  With the goal of arriving at some general direction in terms of policy regarding these projects, I have found myself arriving at a place that makes sense to me.

We are having this discussion because we find ourselves searching for answers about two huge projects.  We have looked in many directions for answers.

In the big picture, I believe it is everyone's responsibility to do a better job overall of reviewing any request that is before us.  I know that, in the past, I have not read every proposal before me and have relied solely on the director's recommendation.  I also believe that many of our longstanding organizations do not need to be highly scrutinized each year.  In addition, there are currently larger, and more complicated requests.  I believe the Library and the Interurban Trail are two such projects. For the record, I see little or no difference between these two projects in the context of our decision making process.  Both of these projects require a much higher degree of scrutiny and I feel that we all have to become more comfortable with asking more serious questions.  When these projects/requests come before the board, any one of us should feel comfortable in asking that this proposal move to a higher level in terms of respectful questions and scrutiny.  This interest level should be perceived as a positive in terms of making a thoughtful decision.  

Therefore, I think that any project of this higher attention should be evaluated on a few rather simple concepts.  1) Is the project clearly defined?  2) Financial feasibility? 3)  Does this project have a reasonable chance for success?  4) Is there significant support from the city?  5) Will this project significantly impact the lives of the people of Watertown?

As much as I believe the Bike trail and the Library have value, I don't believe either project meet all of the above stated criteria at this time.  

I would however be open to setting aside some form of funding or earmarking for either or both projects in the event the criteria is met.

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Re: Library update

Post by bconley on Thu Feb 09, 2017 3:00 pm

It's great to have your update about what's happening with the project and who the parties are that are involved. Sounds like we'll know more about the future of it after the meeting. In reviewing the RFP document on the library's website, looks like they plan on doing fundraising between June 2017 and June 2020 for the proposed expansion.

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Re: Library update

Post by richdarb3 on Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:45 pm

That's great to know. Thank you Brooke. We should know more late February! I hope they have a good plan. I believe they have a lot of work to do.

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