By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
“Overjoyed” was Addison Township Library Board President James Baldiga’s first reaction to the news that the library’s proposal was included among 10 proposals submitted by U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin for consideration of funding by the 2022 House Appropriations Committee. “Our project to build the first community-owned library in Addison Township was deemed deserving,” he said. “Our request for $500,000, we feel, is reasonable and combined with the project’s funding through savings, construction loan and fundraising, our success is closer than ever.”
Members of Congress are allowed to submit ten qualified project proposals from their districts to the Appropriations Committee for consideration of targeted federal funds for local governments, as part of a new Community Project Funding initiative.
“It was a huge honor to be selected among the 58 very worthy community projects submitted to Slotkin. Now the waiting begins, as funding decisions may not be announced until March 2022,” Library Director Jaema Berman responded.
The half-million dollars would get the library to its $1.3 million goal to build a new 5,000-square-foot facility directly across Rochester Rd. from the library’s current location, on a donated 3.8 acre property between Milmine Road and Cantley Street. According to the township, the library’s current leased space is in poor condition and cannot support the needs of families in the communities – and funding will help “develop and increase the health, literacy and vibrancy of this rural community now and in the future.”
The nine other proposals across Michigan’s 8th district range from $400,000 to $10.5 million. The projects may be included in the annual spending bill Congress will vote on for the upcoming fiscal year, according to a statement by Slotkin’s office. “The process can be lengthy, and while funding cannot be guaranteed, Congresswoman Slotkin will fiercely advocate for federal funding for Michigan’s 8th district.”
Slotkin announced on her website that the project met the criteria of demonstrating a positive impact on the community, good use of taxpayer dollars and broad community support. In addition to the application, nearly 100 expressions of support were submitted by patrons as well as local supervisors, administrators, lawmakers and supporters.
“The nearly one hundred letters, emails and calls to support our effort made a huge difference,” Director Berman said. “Our small library plays a significant role in the health, wellbeing and vibrancy of our community.”
“Our work is far from over,” mused Char Sutherby, President of the Friends of the Addison Twp. Library. “There is still much we can do to help make this long dream a reality. Our library was founded on the hopes and dreams of volunteers in the back of a barbershop in 1978, on the corner of Rochester and Elmwood Streets. Moms in the neighborhood donated books and brought their children to the small neighborhood library for storytimes. Now this small library serves everybody. Through new programming, new technology, like Wifi, and the opportunity to improve and enhance their space, the sky’s the limit!”
For more information and watch the project’s progress, go to www.letsbuildalibrary.org.
By James Hanlon