Baldwin City Council moves ahead with library expansion
The Baldwin City Council earned a round of applause Monday with approval of two measures that moved forward a $620,000 expansion of the Baldwin City Public Library.
The applause was from members of the Baldwin City Public Library Board and its expansion committee, delighted with results in their longstanding efforts to get more room for the crowded library. Library supporters starting looking into the library’s expansion five years ago and first brought a proposal to the council in December 2010.
In October, the council approved a nonbinding resolution supporting the library’s expansion. At that time, library board members urged the council to make progress on the expansion before the council’s membership changed with this spring’s elections.
The council complied Monday, approving an interlocal agreement establishing the rights and responsibilities of the city council and library board for the library’s expansion and financing details.
In the agreement, the library board agrees to provide $120,000 for the expansion and the city agrees to issue $510,000 in bonds for the project ($500,000 for the project and $10,000 for bond costs). The council also voted 5-0 to advance for a second reading an ordinance allowing the city to issue bonds for the project. The measure will be before the council for a final vote Feb. 18.
The bonds will be retired with revenue for the city’s quarter-cent quality-of-life sales tax. Friends of Library members actively supported a 2009 referendum establishing the sales tax with an eye to a future expansion.
“It’s very satisfying,” library board president Jane Miller said after Monday’s votes. “It’s been five years.”
Mayor Ken Wagner said the interlocal agreement established roles that reflect the history of the property. The property on which the library was built was donated to the city in 1976, which in turn transferred title of the property to the library board in 1991. That meant the library board could contract an architect to design the project.
Miller said three of four architectural firms interested in the project had presented preliminary proposals for the expansion and had found creative ways to use the limited space the property has.
The library board would meet Wednesday to consider which of those architectural firms — Devore Associates of Ottawa, Dunfield Design of Lawrence, Emig & Associates of Emporia and Zimmerschied Architecture of Lawrence — to recommend to the library board, Miller said. The board would make a decision on that recommendation at its Feb. 26, she said.
Library board and expansion board member Sheryl Cleverley said architects were tasked with finding more room for children’s activities, more community space and storage.
When discussing the expansion in October, council members and Wagner asked that the plans provide a meeting room suitable for city council use.
After Monday’s votes, Wagner thanked the library supporters for their patience, adding that the protracted wait allowed for a better end product.
“I have no doubt when this project is done we, as a community, will be proud of this project and it will be a cornerstone of our downtown,” he said.