Addison Library moves forward with new property

Library Director Rosie Walker, left, Library President James Elsarelli and Library Treasurer Marilyn Szost. Photo by D. Rush

In the meantime, ‘we’re not waiting to be a library, we are a library’

By Don Rush

For years the Addison Township Board has been moving forward with the hopes that one day, the library would have its own building. They currently lease a 3,000 square foot space in a strip mall.

In recent years, they received a 3.9 acre piece of property as a donation to build on. The property is directly across from their current location on Rochester Road, between Milmine Rd., and Cantley St. Then their plans for a new 5,000 square foot library were approved. The good news kept coming as late as last spring, when the community was informed their request for federal funding to the tune of $500,000, was approved as part of a $1.5 trillion appropriations bill signed into law by US President Joe Biden.

Then the wheels of fortune turned. By last July, it became apparent to the library board the cost to bring the donated property up to grade would cost too much. Then library board president James Baldiga told the Oxford Leader, “This total is no longer an estimate or a projection. The established total cost for site preparation and new building construction is now $1.78 million This represents a 25% increase over projections. A week ago we were looking at a $150,000 loan to meet our goal. Now we’ll need a $530,000 loan.”

The original projection to build the new library was $1.3 million, in three years fundraising efforts the library raised $750,000, he said then.

This past February, the board purchased 2.762 acres of property at 900 Lakeville Rd., for just under $82,000.

The cost to develop the land was rising and pushed us out of our planned budget at the time. It was too much,” current library board president James Elsarelli said. “We reevaluated the situation and were able to discover there were lots for sale in the area and started to investigate what it would look like to be on a different lot.”

Esarelli said the board plans on using the original 5,000 square foot plan that was to be used on the donated property for the new property. They are currently waiting for an environmental review of the property before they move forward with construction.

It’s hard to say how long it is going to take,” he said. “We have a preliminary site plan, but for a site plan we need to know the property perks, having the proper engineered septic. We’re not sure if we need to submit a new packet, or if we can or just make the changes. For the $500,000 grant, one of the things we need to provide is a line-item budget on how the grant money will be used. The township has been helping us and they have been very helpful. Bruce (Pearson, Addison Township Supervisor) is really holding our hands on a lot of this.”

According to library board treasurer Marilyn Szost, “Our former president of the board, James Baldiga, is now vice president and he is devoting a lot of time to understanding that grant. There are a lot of workshops you have to take to go through all the steps and he wants to have enough time to make sure we do it correctly.”

Szost said the library board’s plan is to look into the future for their new library. “We’ve done a lot of looking at this. This is just not trying to meet the community needs for the next 10 years – we’ve got to look 25 or 50 years down the road. This new property will probably be better for our needs, especially if we need to expand if the community grows,” she said.

The board members said the 5,000 square foot design was based on a formula from the Michigan Library Association in 2016. “We reached out to the township,” Elsarelli said. “We received the population projections out to 2030 – which back then seemed like a long time away. The population numbers really didn’t grow that much.”

The library’s new building with the additional 2,000 square footage, will allow the library not only to offer more space for patrons, books, audio items and computers, but also more programs, community rooms and the ability to obtain more grants in the future. Owning their own building will also make it easier for the board to make improvements or repairs to the library.

Library Director Rosie Walker said she and the board are grateful to the community, patrons and the township board for the space they currently occupy. “We’re not slowing down. In the meantime, until we have a new building, we are here. We are not waiting to be a library. We are a library.”

Elsarelli said the library board will reach out to the donor of the original property to see what they would support being done with that property.

The original planned look for Addison Township’s new public library.

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