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Library board accepts lease terms for larger space

January 19, 2011 - It's still not a done deal, but the Addison Township Library Board of Trustees took a big step Friday night toward nearly tripling the size of its facility.

The board voted 5-1 to authorize itself to enter into a 10-year lease agreement for approximately 3,000 square feet inside the Lakeville Towne Square strip mall on Rochester Rd. for $1,000 per month plus electric and natural gas costs.

"I do believe moving into the strip mall is a positive step in the right direction," said Library Trustee Evelyn Pickwick. "We have negotiated the terms of the lease and I am satisfied that as a library board, we are well protected. The rent is 25 percent of (what) the space (is) actually worth. I honestly don't believe there's a better opportunity in the community."

Since the early 1980s, Addison's library has been housed in a former kindergarten classroom, built in 1968, that consists of about 1,200 to 1,300 square feet of space.

Leasing this strip mall space would be an interim step toward someday constructing a brand new library if and when adequate funding becomes available.

Nina Ciccolini, president of the library board, clarified the motion is simply to accept the terms of the lease.

"It is made to approve the lease, not to execute the lease," she said. "Approving the lease gives us a solid starting point for budgeting purposes.

"We will be able to then go and get competitive bids, inspections, whatever it is that we need in order to determine whether or not going forward with the execution of the lease, or signing of the lease, is in the best interest of the library and in the best interest of the township."

Pickwick noted before a proposed budget can be created and presented to the board, construction drawings and bids for renovating the space must first be obtained.

"All of the findings will be at public meetings," Ciccolini said. "All the meetings are open to the public and they will be posted accordingly. So, if anyone wants to come, we'd love to have you."

Prior to voting on the lease agreement, the library board listened to public comments that expressed both concerns and support for the proposed move.

Addison resident Margaret Koski believes the board's efforts seem "a little bit disorganized" and lacking in "thorough consideration" of all the factors.

Her big fear is that once they start tearing the strip mall walls apart, costs could increase dramatically if code violations are discovered.

"I hope that you've also considered that and looked into that because that could cost us a tremendous amount more than the $110,000 figure," Koski said.

The $110,000-to-$115,000 figure is the "worst case scenario" for renovating the space. This estimate was provided to the library board by Library Design Associates, a Plymouth-based consulting firm.

Koski questioned the wisdom of investing large sums of public money in a privately-owned building.

"You are upgrading (it) and giving him equity in his building at the taxpayers' expense," she said.

Addison resident John Boehmer, who also serves as an elected member of the township board, was supportive of the proposed move.

"I think our current library is grossly inadequate to accommodate this township's needs," he said. "I see it as a fiscally responsible move and I trust that the library board will move forward with due diligence in their investigation."

Much like the township hall, fire station and police station, Boehmer views the public library as an "anchor" in a community and a vital part of having a "town square."

Addison resident Jim Zyrek asked how the library board plans to disseminate information to the public as it moves forward with investigating what's needed and how much it will cost to renovate the strip mall space.

Ciccolini indicated that in addition to public meetings held on the third Tuesday of every month, there will also be more newspaper articles and chances to watch the board meetings on Oxford Community Television.

"We are putting forth, I think, a very good effort covering as many bases as we can to get that information disseminated," she said.

Addison resident Joy Manthey also stressed the need for the board to communicate and make good decisions.

"I want to urge you to be sure that the actions you take bring this community together and (don't) tear it down," she said.

Ciccolini noted that the library's need for more space is nothing new and neither is the search for it. The quest is nearly 20 years old.

She explained that in 1992, the library board was in the process of contacting a Realtor to investigate what buildings, properties or spaces were available for a larger library.

The following year a needs assessment was conducted and it was determined that an 11,000-square-foot library was required to meet the community's needs for the next 20 years. At the time, the cost was estimated to be $1.5-$1.7 million.

In 2002-03, the board once again conducted a needs assessment and it was determined the community needed a 9,000-square-foot library with a 4,000-square-foot unfinished basement for future expansion. The projected cost back then was $2.9 million.

"If somebody knows somebody that's got a spare $3 million, send them our way," Ciccolini quipped.

Ciccolini said throughout the years two things have been apparent 1) the township needs a bigger library; 2) "we really don't want to pay for it."

That's why this potential move into the strip mall makes sense to the library board.

"We have the opportunity to move into a larger facility as an interim step while we try to figure out how we can get a new building with a minimal cost to the taxpayers, if any," Ciccolini said. "We have the opportunity to increase the space of the library, which is the main concern of anybody that uses the library, and we have in our savings, because we have been fiscally responsible, the funding to take care of this and to offer a better space at no additional cost to the community."

The library currently has $228,174 invested in Certificates of Deposit. It's from this savings that the library could pay for renovations to the strip mall and the increased cost of operating in a larger space, which is estimated to be another $5,000 annually.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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