Cocalico regional leaders receive library update

By on February 4, 2016

The Jan. 27 Cocalico Regional Leaders meeting was a learning session of sorts.

The group received an update on the status of the Adamstown Area Library relocation project. And, they were introduced to the superintendent-elect of the Cocalico School District.

With West Cocalico Township hosting, Supervisor Chair James J. Stoner convened the meeting with officials from Denver, Adamstown, and East Cocalico, along with leaders from Cocalico School District and Adamstown Area Library.

Jane Webber, president of The Friends of the Adamstown Library, reported the many benefits the larger space at the former VFW building, 110 W. Main St., Adamstown, would afford.

These benefits include better traffic flow, room for books/displays/programs/activities, a community room which could have a separate entrance and restroom facilities enabling it to be rented for events, an attractive outdoor area for reading, a coffee service area, and space for the popular and growing Family Place program which uses manipulative educational toys.

“We realize that the library serves five municipalities and it’s our intent to rename the library since we serve more than Adamstown,” said Webber.

“How might you do that?” asked Denver Manager Mike Hession. “Would you have a contest?”

“We don’t have a plan to accomplish this yet,” said Webber. “We know we’d like the name to be more representative of the area we serve.”

She also noted the former VFW building contains apartments.
“Possibly we might refurbish the apartments so that an income stream is possible,” Webber said.

“Obviously we can’t do everything at once. We’ve been blessed by Adamstown Borough with a gift of $150,000 and that will kick off our capital campaign.”

Webber expressed appreciation for the support municipalities give the library and reminded the municipal leaders that they will be contacted as the capital campaign unfolds. Settlement on the former VFW building is tentatively set for end of April.

“Mike Wetherhold is the library project liaison and primary point of contact for the project,” said Webber.

Wetherhold is a library board member and Adamstown Borough Council member. He personally presented information to each municipality when the opportunity to acquire the former Adamstown VFW began.

Dr. Ella Musser, a 22-year Cocalico School District educator, and assistant to Superintendent Dr. Bruce Sensenig the past seven years, was introduced as the newly elected superintendent when Sensenig retires after this school year.

“Ella has done some fantastic things in curriculum for Cocalico students,” said Sensenig.

Sensenig, noting “things can change quickly,” cited a regional study on academic achievement that included several counties. Cocalico ranked among the top four districts.

“We’re in good company with the other three districts being Derry Township (Hershey), Palmyra, and York Suburban,” said Sensenig.

Musser walked municipal leaders through handouts highlighting achievement over the last five years. These include nearly doubling the number of students in AP courses.

“And, our students are holding their own and doing well on the exams,” said Musser. “It used to be only our students going to college would take the exam. Now, many more take the exam.”

“I’ve asked some people who recently moved into our community from out of the area what made them choose to move here,” said Adamstown Council President Randy Good. “They said that they researched school districts and they wanted to come to ours.”

The other agenda item pertaining to all municipalities was the status of the 6.68-acre tract of land at 1975 N. Reading Road, donated back to East Cocalico Township and for use by all the municipalities, when DenTech bought the remainder of that land. The parcel was put up for sale by bid twice and each time there were no bidders.

East Cocalico Chairman Doug Mackley said he felt that of the three people who approached the township about the land, only one might remain interested.

“And when we tell that person what kind of sale price we’re looking for, that could change,” he said.
East Cocalico Manager Mark Hiester reported no one else has made any contact.

Hession and Blake Daub, Denver Council president, each asked questions about the possibility of having the land declared tax exempt since it is undeveloped and such approval would help lessen the municipalities’ annual carrying costs.

Sensenig explained that the school district has two tracts of undeveloped land on which the Lancaster County Tax Bureau conferred this status.

“It’s a long process with lots of paperwork and we could not make that decision ourselves,” he said. “The tax bureau, after reviewing all documents, conveyed their decision, and our board approved it.”

All municipal officials agreed that this route is one which they’d like East Cocalico officials to explore.

The general consensus was that the economy is slowly recovering and a current, lower priced sale just to unload the land, could “come back to bite us” if a new owner flips it for a much higher price. Officials advocated “staying the course” and reducing carrying costs if possible.

The next quarterly regional leader’s meeting is scheduled for Adamstown Borough Hall, April 26 at 7 p.m.

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