Proposal To Build New Library Draws Support, Criticism From Local Residents
Faced with a problem of a lack of space, the local library has been forced to install higher bookshelves to make for more sitting room and contend with adults occupying the space usually reserved for teens.
The limitations of the existing building are plain to see, say Saugatuck-Douglas District Library officials who have for more than six years now been discussing and working on plans to construct a new library building.
The project - if funding can be obtained - would address an exponentially increasing demand for service and provide much-needed technological improvements, they note.
“As 2014 begins, the library board will begin to make the vision of a new library a reality. In the next few weeks, the board will purchase the property at 152 Center St. (across the street from its current location). Soon after that, preliminary planning will begin with architect, Tracy Sweeney, for a new 12,500 sq. ft. building,” said Saugatuck-Douglas District Board Member Cathy Brockington.
Chaired by Brockington and Chuck and Patti Rickett, the capital campaign “Our Focus-Our Center-Our Future” has raised $212, 929 in cash gifts so far and over $90,000 more in donations and pledges to be received in 2014 and 2015.
The money will be used to purchase the property. “We took advantage of the property being available to us at the rock-bottom prize of $195,000,” she Brockington. “We really want to thank all our donors (150-plus),” she added.
Still, the library board has a long way to go, as it last estimated it would need $4.2 million to fund the balance and expects to go before the electorate for a millage request, a move that has drawn much criticism from some residents who question the need for such a large building and the ancillary costs that go with it. However, the actual costs for the project and what rate that millage would be are all matters that are pending discussion and need to be more clearly laid out, said Brockington.
“The library board is well aware that there are many worthy causes in this community and we know we are competing with those causes. We also know of the economic climate we find ourselves in. But it is important to think of the library as the heart of our community, that it serves so many needs. It’s not just books, it’s a meeting place where many come and everybody is welcomed,” said Brockington.
Referring to how the library has had to get rid of something every time it buys something new, Saugatuck-Douglas District Library Director Martha Boetcher noted, “We really have no space; we are in a gridlock.” said told Observer Newspapers Tuesday.
As for the increase in demand, Boetcher said she can unequivocally assert that, for example, the children’s programming is twice as busy as other library’s that serve twice the population size.
The board would like to thank all of the Campaign Cabinet Members: David Balas, Larry Botz, Liz Engel, Arthur Frederick, Dick and Alice Haight, Jim Hanson, Dee Dee Hanson, Jon Helmrich, Donna Leonard, Dick Lucier, Teresa O’Brien, Robert Palmer, Maryrita Peters, Kathleen Piggins, Mary Schaf, Jim Sellman, Charles Terry, Leslie Thompson and Jane Underwood.