Several Vandalia area residents attended the Mexico-Audrain County Library District held in Farber last Tuesday night to show their support for the Vandalia Branch Library.
After it was noted that the closing on the property had not been completed as of the meeting, board member Bob Fenlon said he talked with the lawyer. He noted the title commitment would be ensured by the bank to the property and there was nothing “unusual.”
It was noted that a certified copy of the minutes where the board authorized to purchase the property and minutes where someone was appointed to execute the documents at closing need to be given to the bank.
The board followed by authorizing Fenlon to be the person who could execute the documents.
Board member Dave Neuendorf gave those in attendance an update on the asbestos issue at the site of the new library location, which is the former Tri-County Building Supply building.
Neuendorf referenced the environmental study done that identified some asbestos issues at the site, which have to be abated before demolition.
Midwest Services has been the chosen company to handle the asbestos. Work on the location will begin August 15 and should take three to four days to complete.
Board President Aggie Deimeke said a preliminary list of contractors for Request For Proposals (RFP’s) was put together.
“We are suggesting that the project is going to not exceed $420,000 so we are wanting the Request For Proposal for construction of 2,800 square foot,” Deimeke said.
She went on to say that she knew many Vandalia area residents were at the meeting with concerns on the size of the building but also added that the $420,000 is the total amount the district is willing to spend.
Deimeke said the building could be built to where the district could have an addition at a later time.It was noted that in a previous month a total of $600,000 was given as an amount for the project. The board pointed out that some of that money will be spent on the asbestos issue and clean-up of the property.
Patron and Vandalia library’s Brenda Gower asked why the board is only using the money from its fund for the project and not allowing the citizens of Vandalia to donate dollars for the project? The point of the question is that the board has put nothing in “The Vandalia Leader” to help citizens know how they can donate to the project.
Deimeke said there was an extensive discussion at the previous month’s board meeting.
Vandalia Branch Library Manager Crystal McCurdy said there was discussion on folks who gave to the YMCA that wanted to give to the library when the project was combined.
She reiterated that she understood from the board in the past that there would be enough money to build a 5,000 to 6,000 square foot building when the previous district director met with builders in the lower floor of the Vandalia library.
“But when it changed that we were going to lose our building size to half of what we have now and services would be cut because of that then why didn’t you all come and say let’s get this in the newspaper, we needed money,” McCurdy said.
She noted that it was mentioned in the last meeting that something needed to be done and submitted to the paper.
A Farber patron noted how it’s not just Vandalia, but Audrain County residents and some from outside of the county use the facilities.
President Deimeke said the population is not what is being used to determine the size of facility needed. She said the guideline is the tax money available that built up over the years.
“We’re cutting it down because we only have ‘x’ number of thousand dollars,” Deimeke said to a patron’s point that the library size is going down 1,000 square foot.
President Deimeke said though the district was made out as the bad guy in the newspaper that folks should remember the district is now giving the Vandalia area $600,000.
“But we haven’t got anything for years any way?,” McCurdy said. “Our carpet is 26 years old.”
Deimeke said the Vandalia library building was owned by the City of Vandalia.
“We only leased the building,” Deimeke added.
Some discussion was also held about $80,000 that was set to go to one area of the district and could be used to the Vandalia library project as reportedly discussed in a past meeting, this according to McCurdy.
Fenlon then brought the conversation back to the idea of someone perhaps looking to raise some funds to increase the “scope of the project.”
“But we would have done that and started that back last Fall if we had understood there wasn’t going to be enough money,” McCurdy responded.
McCurdy then noted the conversation on the “Friends of the Library” in the July meeting, a group which had been inactive since 2010-2011.
McCurdy said she submitted an item for the paper and the “Friends of the Library” is set for a meeting, though she wasn’t told to do it.
“We are short on time,” she said. “We’re not going to raise $300,000 now and by the time you guys sign a contract. There’s no way we can. But we might have raised a nice chunk if we had realized that this (last) Fall that we needed to do that.”
Gower said the board should have put something in the paper to provide direction to getting folks on board for the new library project in Vandalia.
Deimeke apologized noting the board should have done that.
“Don’t penalize us and that community,” Gower noted. “There should be a statement somewhere…Crystal has gone ahead and put this in the paper…But there has been nothing from the board that says alright, we can go this direction. We’re going to support you in saying that alright, we need more money.”
Gower was then told the article was put in the paper on the issue.
McCurdy said it was in a June article at the end of a story submitted by the library board but just one sentence.
“But one time is not enough to let people know,” she added.
“Now what do you want?,” Deimeke said. “We were wrong, we’re sorry, we should have done this months ago, if that’s what you want to hear and I agree…”
“We just want need a direction and that if there is some money that is collected that it will go to the library,” Gower noted. “I don’t think you should be building this for Vandalia; I think you should be building this for the library system…Working at that library we get patrons from all over Audrain County…”
McCurdy said there is concern that the account set up will be money going only to the Vandalia Branch Library and nothing has been put in the paper by the board.
Amy Childs asked when will money need to be collected by the Vandalia area residents to get a figure into the RFP’s.
It is noted that about $180,000 in additional dollars would need to be raised to get the Vandalia facility to better square footage.
It was noted that the YMCA ground-breaking will likely be done by the end of the year.
McCurdy said the library may need to go to a temporary location.
Fenlon said he wondered if the Rual Morris Foundation could be a possible source for funding.
“You all sound like you’re saying that you’re doing Vandalia a favor but we are a part of the Mexico-Audrain Library District,” McCurdy noted. “…It just sounds like you’re making it as something you are not proud of…”
It was noted that the “Friends of the Library, Inc.” is not a 501(c)(3).
Then discussion heated up as to why the newspaper would say that the previous project was the YMCA/Library project “without (the board’s) approval?”
McCurdy noted that those with the district were a part of the YMCA/Library project. She said the library district was kept up to date and she also noted that the library was a part of seeking grants.
McCurdy noted that the past library director was a part of the grant process in the past.
Some discussion was held about the possibility of the board increasing their part from $420,000 to $500,000.
Fenlon proposed to have the building committee for the district to attend the “Friends of the Library” meeting.
One patron expressed their concern, that even though they know the board is using a formula, that going from 4,300 to 2,800 square feet would be a loss to the district and its residents.
Some discussion then went towards the possibility of seeking donations to name the library, rooms, etc. President Deimeke said it appears the goal is to raise $100,000. In the meantime, the asbestos issue will be addressed. Contractors will be held off until it’s known how big of a building the district can afford.