How was the current building financed?
In April 1989, Tonganoxie voters approved a $350,000 Bond issue and an additional one-half of one percent city sales tax for a new library building. This action allowed the city to construct a new 6,000 square foot building at 303 S Bury Street. The current building opened in 1991. Prior to that, the library was housed in part of a bank, a millinery shop and various other locations around downtown.
What will happen with the old building if it is decided to relocate?
We don't know yet. The building and the adjacent vacant lot on 3rd and Delaware are owned by the library board, and, should the library relocate, it is the board's intent to find an occupant for the old building, though it conceivably could be used as a stacks to store books. It's a great building that's in great shape; it's just too small to house the library this community needs. There is always the possibility that we could build a two-story facility on the current property, though that would require additional staffing and additional costs in stairs and elevators so all patrons could find it accessible.
How did we come up with estimates of $3 million to $3.6 million?
In the more than 12 years that the Tonganoxie Library Board has been researching and working on this project, many venues around town have been discussed, from highway locations to storefront property on 4th Street. In 2014, when we had a needs assessment completed by the Northeast Kansas Library System, the library only had two options: Expand on the current property or enter into a partnership with the City to perhaps construct a new facility on 3rd and Main. At that time, the board asked the Northeast Kansas Library System architect to supply some rough costs of the largest possible one-story structure on our current property, and two different options at 3rd and Main: One with additional parking and one without. In 2015, the architect provided us three different proposals, and their high end estimates ranged from $3 million to $3.6 million. I've attached those documents. Two things to keep in mind: Those estimates were given to us two years ago, so costs have only gone up, and, if the City decides to sell the city shop at 3rd and Main to a business, those estimates are off the table. We do not have an estimate for the school property because that's been a recent development (since Thanksgiving 2016) and the ownership of that property has not changed hands. At this point we have no idea what costs of a new library at the school property will be.
How will we decide where it's built?
Lots and lots of community input. The board will seek public and patron input at every opportunity before we present anything to the City, which, I'm sure, will do its due diligence in representing the public. The board has resolved to keep the library downtown because, at the end of the day, this is an effort in building our community.
Is there a possibility of adding a storm shelter?
This has been discussed many times over the years. With a storm shelter comes additional costs: It will have to be secure, staffed and accessible. A community shelter also likely would need to be available at all hours of the day, every day of the week and holidays. Which means someone on staff, on City staff or emergency personnel would have to be charged with opening the shelter when a storm approaches -- even in the middle of the night. It's something the board will definitely discuss, consider and seek input from the City and the community. At the current library, the restrooms and back hallways are the designated storm shelter areas. But, as the patron noted, with the volume of children in the library after school, the shelter space of the current library is inadequate should a storm strike, hence the need for a new library.
Can you make sure it's big enough for 20 years?
The library board is doing all it can to ensure the library outlasts the tax. One thing to consider, however, is that all the architects and library planners we've spoken with will not plan out a library beyond 10 years because technology changes so much. IPads, for example, were only released seven years ago, now many households have at least one tablet type device. Some new libraries are being built that have no books at all. This was one of our concerns about the 20-year tax: We'll be paying on it for 20 years, but we can't project out beyond 10. We also have to keep in mind our role as a community center that provides more than just books. We will have to discuss spaces for programming, study, satellite work stations for people who work outside of a traditional office, and many other options. The board will consult with experts and new libraries across the country to find the right library for our community.