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Cornelius council mulls library project funding

Panel gives $2 million collaborative project a general thumbs-up, but financial questions remain


No motion was made at the Cornelius City Council meeting Monday night about the proposed plan for a new Cornelius library, but the dream is getting closer to becoming a reality every day.

Library Director Karen Hill updated the council on the feasibility study and planning progress. A variety of new library supporters were also in attendance, including representatives from Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, Bienestar and the YMCA.

Council members showed their support for the project and indicated they're excited to see it move forward, but a few questions still need to be answered before the city council will make any decisions — mainly concerning funding.

Hill recommended the project to the council, though, claiming that according to the feasibility study, “we believe it can be done.”

Under the current plan, the new library’s funding would come from a variety of sources, but relies heavily on the eventual passage of a $2 million bond. Chances of passing the bond are good, according to a survey of 261 residents in which 71 percent said they would likely vote yes on a 20-year construction bond. But Mayor Jef Dalin said he wants to make sure the community will show their support for the new building, which includes a 16,000-square-foot library and a 3,500-square-foot community meeting space on the first level and senior housing on the second level with the main entrance on the corner of 14th Avenue and Adair Street.

“The funding is concerning,” he said at the council meeting Monday night. “We are looking at a big dollar commitment to move this project forward. I want to see everybody coming along with us.”

Dalin said he would like to see evidence of community members stepping up to help raise funds and donate.

Councilor Dave Schamp also raised questions about the funding of the library once it is up and running, but added that he is “very excited about this project and very supportive of the project.”

Financial fine-tuning

Covering costs of water, utility, sewage and other basic bills once the library is open still needs a little fine-tuning, councilors agreed.

Long-term funding would include support from Washington County Cooperative Library Services, which funds libraries partly based on usage numbers. In addition, with more users checking out more materials, fine money would increase. The building would also be shared with Bienestar and space would also potentially be rented to the YMCA, so some costs could be split.

Parking was also a concern voiced by Dalin, but project designer Sid Scott answered with a parking proposal that would include street spaces around the perimeter of the proposed building and construction of a new parking lot.

City officials and members of the library board are in the early stages of communication with the homeowner whose residence sits in the currently proposed parking lot space, Scott noted.

It could be three to five years before a ribbon cutting ceremony takes place, according to Rob Drake, Cornelius city manager. But when the time comes, it “could show the public Cornelius can redevelop,” said Drake.

“This would help us transform and be something the citizens can be really proud of,” said Hill.

Dalin agreed. “I think it’s the right thing for our community,” he said.

The councilors' next move will be to review the results of the library project's feasibility study and decide by Jan. 15 whether they believe the project can take the next steps under the current plan.




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