New library plan proposed

By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

Plans for a new Grove City Library could shift yet again.

At the Sept. 2 Grove City Council meeting, councilwoman Laura Lanese introduced legislation that would provide Southwest Public Libraries with city financial support to build a new library at its current location on Park Street. The original plan was to relocate the library from Park Street to the corner of Broadway and Grant Avenue.

The proposal did not get much support from council. It was voted down 4-1. However, library officials are considering the plan.

Lanese’s resolution came in response to council’s decision to support a new plan that would straighten the Columbus Street and Broadway intersection to Mill Street. This street realignment would take space away from the relocated library building. Lanese cast the only ‘no’ vote on the measure.

Lanese said she drafted this new proposal a few weeks ago after hearing from many angry community members. She said the plan to build the library along Broadway and realign Columbus Street brings up safety concerns.

“Safety issues are paramount,” said Lanese.

In a blog on Lanese’s website, she writes that the realignment would help with traffic concerns, but it would cause pedestrian problems. She believes the current Park Street site is the safer option for pedestrians.

In the proposal, Lanese suggests building the new library at 3339 Park Street, otherwise known as the grassy lot next to the Grove City Library, with the city’s agreed-to contribution of funds. The city owns that grass lot. The current library building would become a larger parking lot, with some green space.

“It’s what the public wants,” Lanese wrote. “We heard it loud and clear at the last library board meeting. I hear it all the time from residents.”

According to city documents, the new library would cost approximately $10.8 million and extra costs of public improvements would be around $3.2 million. The city would have contributed approximately $7 million.

Lanese believes her plan would save money too. She said city officials do not yet know how much the Columbus Street realignment would cost. If the library were to stay on Park Street, the city could decrease the cost to taxpayers, said Lanese.

“I think this is a great decision for the city,” said Lanese. “It addresses a lot of issues important to the Town Center.”

Council president Ted Berry has been an advocate for the realignment of Columbus Street. He said the street extension would leave open the option for future development in the Town Center, especially now with the closing and potential redevelopment of Beulah Park.

In a recent interview, Berry said, “The library needs to do what’s best for them. I am in support of a financial partnership with the library.”

Councilman Jeff Davis wrote a letter on Lanese’s website to explain his ‘yes’ vote on the Columbus Street realignment. He said he sees the chance to have a great, state-of-the-art library in the heart of the Town Center. He said when council voted on the original plan, from Pizzuti, to redevelop the downtown area, the idea was to have the library anchor the northern end of the Town Center.

“The purpose was to bring people into our Town Center and keep them there. That’s the magic of an urban library,” Davis wrote.

Davis said the proposed library design on Broadway was creative and brilliant.

“No other single site library in our region would offer its community quite what this library would provide for use.”

While Davis envisions a revitalized downtown and increase market district, he said he knows community support for the library on Broadway is on the decline.

Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said the city’s administration would stay focused on the original Pizzuti plan.

“We will forge ahead with the plan laid out in 2012,” said Stage.

That plan includes relocating the library to Broadway and Grant Avenue.

Stage admits he has been frustrated with the constant changing situation, but said he remains optimistic.

Stage also said part of the plan is to swap properties with the library. Under the original plan, the library would move to Broadway and the city would take over the current building and possibly relocate City Hall.

Several weeks ago, the library board of trustees met and was frustrated with the city and the lack of communication on the project. They said they wanted guarantees that plans would not continue to change without consulting library officials.

The city and the library have been working together for the past two years to relocate the Grove City branch. Library trustees said they feel as if they are not treated as partners.

The trustees plan to discuss their options at the next board meeting, held at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 9 at the Grove City Library.

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