Press-Republican

March 10, 2013

Mooers library construction still on hold

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — MOOERS — Construction of a new Mooers Free Library building continues to be postponed as a committee explores sites for it.

Three are under consideration, according to Mooers Fire Department President Jeff Menard.

The first one is on Maple Street, just south St. Joseph’s Parish; the second is on School Street, across from Mooers Elementary School; and the third is across from L&M Convenience Store on Route 11.

“I’m glad that they (the town) have kind of seen the light,” Menard said.

The town was previously considering building the new library on the property where the fire station/town office complex sits at 2508 Route 11.

There’s not enough room for a library there, Menard said, and less space could become a safety issue since emergency vehicles need plenty of room to come and go.

The town hasn’t officially ruled out that location yet. However, “they seem to be on board with our three choices of alternate properties,” he said.

DONATED LAND

All three properties, each of which covers at least an acre, would be donated to the town for the specific purpose of becoming the site of the next library, he said.

“All of these (properties) are contingent upon a library being built there; they’re not being donated outright to the town,” said Library Director Jackie Madison, who has been attending the meetings of the Town Council’s Library Committee.

ASSESSING SITES

While the location near the church has the most space — as much as 3 acres — it belongs to the parish and approval must be obtained from the state and Diocese of Ogdensburg before construction could begin, Madison said.

Dr. Wayne Evans has offered about an acre next to his home on School Street; it is on the back side of an empty lot left when a home on Route 11 burned in a fire, she said.

“That would probably be the next ideal location,” Madison said.

The property across from L&M is situated behind homes on Route 11, she said.

“That, I’m not exactly thrilled (about), only because we’re close to residential homes, and while some members of the committee think that isn’t a problem ... they (homeowners) may not appreciate that.”

Although there are new challenges to face now, Menard is pleased the process of picking a location for constructing the new library has slowed down, he said.

“To me, they were in too much of a hurry.”

While emotions seemed to have cooled since the time when the Fire Department appeared to be pitted against the town on the issue of the library, there’s still controversy, according to Menard.

“I’m still getting some residents that say, ‘We don’t need a library, and where’s the money going to come from?’”

FUNDING GAP

Menard thinks a new library would likely cost more than $100,000.

“I couldn’t confirm that,” Madison said, since she says an estimate hasn’t backed up that figure. 

The town does have an estimate of roughly $54,000.

Whatever the new library will cost, the town currently does not have enough funds to complete construction.

Madison continues to apply for state grants to close the gap.

“Between all of them, we’re probably somewhere close to about $40,000.”

If a grant from the Gloria Brooks Foundation goes through, the town could get as much as $50,000 in additional funds for the library.

Part of the $40,000 is an almost $11,000 construction grant from the state that Madison secured in June 2012.

“It carries for three years, but they will have two more years as of June to actually complete the project,” Madison said. “We do need to do something before June so I can at least report” the progress to the state.

The town is hoping to sell the old library and put that revenue toward the construction of the new building, Menard said.

TESTS NEEDED

Once the weather gets better, tests need to be conducted on the three potential construction sites to determine whether they are conducive to the project.

“That’s what we’re waiting for now, for the weather to break,” Menard said.

The town plans to work with a representative from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to make the building energy efficient, Madison said, which would qualify the town for rebates.

She said the Library Committee has tentatively decided on May 15 as the date for preparations for construction to begin.

BROADER ROLE

Madison said the library is an integral part of the Mooers community.

She hopes the name of the facility can be changed to something that reflects its many roles, like Community Information Center or Mooers Information Center.

The public needs to be aware that libraries provide more than just books, she said.

The new library will include a community center where local groups can hold meetings and presentations.

“I hope that once this is built, it’s more than a library,” Madison said.

Email Felicia Krieg:

fkrieg@pressrepublican.com

MORE DISCUSSION The Town of Mooers Library Committee's next meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday at the Town Offices, said Town Councilman Earl Robinson. The Mooers Town Council meets next at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Both meetings are open to the public.