Adamstown library plans must ‘down-size’

By on July 10, 2019

The newest Adamstown Area Library plans seemed a sure thing but those plans were delivered a blow at the recent July Adamstown Borough council meeting.

At the June meeting, president Randy Good excitedly talked about a “walk-over,” to be held in March 2020, where a huge line of residents and library lovers would carry books from the old to the new library.

“What we have here is something that has gone off the rails,” said Good. “We don’t need a Taj Mahal.”
“You’ve been warned that in past meetings,” said Cindy Schweitzer, chairperson of finance. “I think you need to severely down-size this project.”

In February of 2019, the borough finance committee and library board discussed a loan to the library of up to $600,000 with a 2% interest over the next 25 years instead of a previous donation of $150,000 from the borough to the library.

Schweitzer discussed the changed, current numbers to complete the new library.

“The project total is currently $1,648,750. $608,000 cash is in the bank and $200,000 which includes the borough donation,” said Schweitzer. “$768,750 is needed.”

Schweitzer suggested discussion since an agreement was not made at the last meeting.
Vice president Dave Matz was concerned about financing the sewer line and was also worried about the “sustainability of libraries in the culture that we live in.”
“A lot of stuff is going by the wayside real quick — commercial stores, newspapers, books,” said Matz. “To be saddled with a library that folds after five years and here we are with a building that was designed as a library, I don’t see putting that burden on future council members.”

“I have concerns about the sustainability of the library balancing their budget as they move forward,” said Schweitzer. “Your municipal contributions have decreased. Adamstown Borough is not growing, so we will not increase contribution.”

Council member Alex McManimen thought the current numbers are still “gray.”

“Being in construction, I’d add another 10 percent,” said McManimen. “You don’t know what you’re going to hit when you start taking walls down or moving concrete. I didn’t get on council for the business of investing, I got on for supporting.”

“Heck (Construction) is pretty confident of what they’re facing,” said Marjorie Hyrb, president of the library board.

“The idea of the Hat Fund’s original inception was when any money was used for community things, it would be paid back so the principle would always remain at 1.5 million,” said Matz.

The original plan was for the vacant VFW on Main Street to be re purposed for the new library.

“We started on this three-and-a-half years ago,” said Hyrb. “At the time, we thought we’d be able to keep the old building, at least use the first floor of it. As we got further into construction, it was going to take so much steel to hold that building up to meet today’s code.”
The new library sketch evokes a 1970s vibe from the outside.

“As a new resident, we moved to this town because it is an old town with a lot of history, has a lot of old buildings and it’s charming,” said visitor Heather Marx. “I don’t feel like the facade of this building reflects the rest of this town.”

“The architect (Olsen Design Architects) gave us this design but we had no pricing on it,” said Hyrb. “Somewhere along the line, we ended up with 9,000 square-feet instead of seven.”
Hyrb said they could probably “whack off” the community room and garden.
Schweitzer asked from where the extra two thousand square feet came, which is part reason why the cost went up.

“The architect mismeasured it,” said Hyrb.

The library had emotional supporters in the room, discussing reasons to go ahead with the new library. These reasons have been discussed at length in the past.

“How many of you have been to the library recently or looked at the Facebook page to see the faces of the children who are introduced to the love of learning,” asked Natalie Howe, past library volunteer.
“If you build it, they will come,” said Hyrb.

Hyrb said there are probable donors waiting to see the “shovel in the ground” before giving.
I don’t think faith has a role when discussing numbers,” said council member Shad Lewis.
“If you’ve ever been in this library on a Thursday morning, it’s jammed,” said Hyrb.
“You’ve got to right-size it and come back,” said Schweitzer.

“If that’s part of what we have to do, then we’ll do it,” said Hyrb.

“There’s a lot of different ways you can remodel that building and have phenomenal programs in there and not put yourself at risk. Come up with some sketches and some different ideas, and I think this council will help you,” said Good.

In other news:
• Council again discussed the borough walking trail, which remained nearly unknown to many Adamstown residents until a few months ago. After surveying and engineer work, it was decided to only cover portions of the trail with rocks which “follows the spirit of the trail.”

• Good seemed angry because of the recent accidents on Route 222. “A lot of our residents are traveling that highway,” said Good. “The construction zones are state police responsibility for enforcement as well as crash investigation,” said Ephrata Police Department Lt. Thomas Shumaker.

“It’s becoming unsafe for people to travel through them,” said Good.

Good also said it’s putting pressure on and tying up fire and police.
Michele Walter Fry welcomes your comments at michelewalterfry@gmail.com.

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