As plans continue on Amery’s new City Center, which will house the Police Department, City Hall and Amery Public Library all under one roof, questions are emerging concerning who will pay for portions of the new space.
Ashley Long, President of the Amery Area Public Library Board, approached the City Council at their most recent meeting with figures for furnishings and moving costs.
Library: Can current shelving be used in new space?
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The estimate was written up by John Thompson, IFLS (Inspiring and Facilitating Library Success) Director and shared by Long. “I am here on behalf of the Library Board to submit the library Capital Costs Request for the new City Center project,” said Long.
After looking over the request, council member Tim Strobush asked Long what was wrong with the library’s current furniture?
Long replied, “It does not fit in the space.” She then said the current furnishings were too large to fit with the floor plan of the new space.
Long was asked if some of it fits? She said, “We are taking some of it with us, yes.”
Library Director Amy Stormberg confirmed to the council that some of the pieces are too large to fit in the new space.
The biggest cost of the estimate was for new shelving ($200,000). Long said the library’s current shelving was built specifically for their current location and that there was a height concern for the new space. The council asked Long various questions about why the height of the shelving was an issue and Long said some of those specific questions should be asked to Thompson, who had prepared the report.
“You are asking for $343,000, so we need to have some information,” said Strobush.
Long said she would be happy to ask Thompson and get back to the council.
Strobush then asked, “Is the Library Board will to put any money towards this?”
“The Library Board has never been requested to have any financial responsibility with the new City Center project,” replied Long.
Strobush said, “But again, would they be willing to put money towards it?”
Long said, “If that is the decision of the City, you can put your request in writing to the Library Board, so it can be discussed.”
Council member Eric Elkin said, “I think it needs to be considered because everyone has to participate in the costs. If you don’t have any money in the game, you don’t have the same perspective I guess, so I think we’ll be making the request.”
Council member Rick Van Blaricom asked if there was a problem moving what they could and supplementing the rest. Long said that would increase the moving costs as the current shelves would need to be disassembled, moved and reassembled.
“I think you will need to go back to the Board and present some sort of sharing situation. $350,000 is a lot of money,” Van Blaricom said.
Long responded, “It was also not anything the library was approached about budgeting for or that it was our responsibility. As much as I respect and understand you guys wanting the Library Board to contribute, we weren’t asked to contribute to the idea of being moved.”
Elkin suggested the option of the costs being financed through the City.
Van Blaricom said he values the library tremendously but every decision budget-wise is a cost/benefit analysis. He said, “Can I stand the benefits with the costs being what they are? I still drive a Chevrolet and not a BMW because the costs analysis is not conducive to me spending that kind of dough.”
Council member Chad Leonard said they needed to get a better understanding of what the heights are at the new location and what the differences are between it and the current location. “I would like to see why the shelves cannot work at the new location,” he said.
The discussion then turned to the planned lighting for the new space, which was planned around new shelving.
Leonard said, “Then we need to go to the drawing board with it then because I don’t ever remember a conversation about ‘We are putting brand new shelving in.’ when we went through (Market and Johnson) line item by line item.”
Leonard said the library has been represented during the design phases. So he was surprised the council was just now hearing about the costly shelving.
“We (the library) have never been communicated with that we would have any financial responsibilities for this project, so it swings both ways,” said Long.
Leonard said at the end of the day, the Council did not need to approve the request. Long said that if they expected the Library Board to pay they did need to put the request in writing. She said, “If it is on us, tell us it is on us.”
It was decided the City would draft a letter to the Library Board, who meets July 19, the day prior to the next City meeting.