Library board losing trust


By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

The Southwest Public Libraries Board of Trustees want improved communication with the city of Grove City over their partnership in relocating the Grove City Library.

The board held a special meeting on Aug. 19 to discuss modified plans for site.

Library officials say the plan keeps changing and they are left in the dark.

“It’s like a sand dune in the Sahara,” said Mark Shaw, director of Southwest Public Libraries. “One day it’s in one location and the next day it’s somewhere else.”

Trustee Jill Billman-Royer said, “ It is difficult for us to know where we stand. It’s not a comfortable scenario.”

Billman-Royer said the city and library have been working together on this project for more than two years. She said the trustees feel as if they are not treated as partners.

The night before the trustees met, Grove City Council passed a resolution to endorse the realignment of Columbus and Mill streets at Broadway. The motion passed with a 4-1 vote. Councilwoman Laura Lanese cast the ‘no’ vote.

According to Ted Berry, council president, the new plan straightens the Columbus Street and Broadway intersection to Mill Street. He said it would take about 12 feet away from the original plan for the library.

The original plan was to relocate Grove City Library from its current site on Park Street to a 48,000 square foot space on Broadway and Grant Avenue. The plans did not call for the Columbus Street realignment.

According to the ordinance, the new plan falls in line with a previously approved 2008 Green Frame Plan, which recommends the extension of Columbus Street west through a portion of the new library building.

The council members have thrown their support behind relocating the library, but they see the potential redevelopment with the Beulah Park property as a way to connect the area as a Town Center square.

Berry said the realignment plan addresses economic development and safety.

“It makes sense,” said Berry.

Council decided to move forward with the realignment plan despite a recent report that suggested the city keep the street as is.

In June, city council approved spending $30,000 to have consultants review several options regarding the library site and future Town Center development. That review was released earlier this month. It found no reason to extend the street. The study results found that taking away frontage from the library would lessen the impact the library could have as a contributor to urban vitality. It found that the placement of the library in the Town Center has a greater impact on retail growth than the extension.

Berry said the city is not going against the original agreement with the library board, as some community members have said. He said the agreement said city council had the authority to make changes to the plan as it fit the Town Center redevelopment.

“This plan is looking out for future development,” said Berry. “We want to move forward with it.”

Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage attended the board meeting and said the city was dedicated to relocating the library, but city leaders have to look at the whole picture.

“Remember, this is an overall Town Center plan,” said Stage.

The trustees said they are not against Town Center redevelopment or the potential redevelopment of Beulah Park. They are just tired of being left out of the loop.

“We are hesitant because we are still here in this crowded library room,” said trustee Lisa Leasure.

Trustee Patricia Moncman said, “There’s a real trust issue here.”

Shaw said library officials were looking for a guarantee that the city would not continue to change plans without consulting the library board.

“We need guarantees,” he said.

Stage said the project is a work in progress, but said the city is committed.

The current Grove City Library on Park Street is approximately 16,000 square feet. Library officials say they need more space and more parking.

According to Stage, the city would aim to get the library approximately 100 parking spaces.

Once crews are able to break ground on the new building, it would take approximately one year to complete.

The library trustees plan to discuss the project at their next board meeting on Sept. 9.

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