By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
The Addison Township Public Library will submit an application this week, requesting funding for a new library building, through U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin’s office. Members of Congress are allowed to submit ten qualified, local projects to the Appropriations Committee for consideration of targeted federal funds for local governments, as part of a new Community Project Funding initiative.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Library Board President James Baldiga. “We feel our project is a good fit.”
He thinks they have a good chance, because the project is “shovel-ready,” with planning nearly complete. “We’ve been fundraising for about a decade, and the past two or three years we’ve been spending (some of) that money to complete project planning. And that’s what’s got me so excited is that we’ve gone through iterations with architects, we have a design done, our site plan with the driveways and septic and all that is done. It’s been in front of the township planning commission multiple times and we expect to get final approval on our site plan in May.”
They would be allowed to break ground at that point. “Then we can go in there and actually do something, adding fill, removing stumps, whatever needs to be done.” said Building Committee Chair James Elsarelli.
“We have enough money today to start the project, we just don’t have enough to finish,” Baldiga said. “And that’s what this federal funding will get us.”
The new 5,000-square-foot library will be built directly across Rochester Rd. from the library’s current location. The 3.8 acre property between Milmine Rd. and Cantley St. was donated by James and Carolyn Schenden in 2008.
If funding and approval fell into place right away, and everything else went perfectly, construction could begin as soon as August, according to the project’s construction manager, James Ratliff of the Troy-based Alan Group. “I want to emphasize, that is a hypothetical, best-case scenario,” he said.
Library Director Jaema Berman sees that as a hopeful sign. “It’s very encouraging,” she said. “I would love to see funding fall into place. We have saved about 50 percent of that funding. So I’m in a rather positive state of mind about where we’re going with the project.”
The estimated project cost is $1.3 million. Once the site plan is approved, then they can start taking bids for an exact price. The project will be paid from library Fund Balance savings, fundraising and a construction loan.
Baldiga estimates between $400,000 and $500,000 would come from millage monies that have accrued in the Fund Balance, pending board approval. There would be no additional tax for residents.
With extra fundraising from the capital campaign, the library still needs about $650,000 to reach the $1.3 million goal. They are eligible for a construction loan, which they could use to make up the difference and start the project almost immediately. “We’d prefer to not do that though, because of the interest payments over the years,” Baldiga said.
So, they are requesting $500,000 from the Community Project Funding through Rep. Slotkin’s office. If they receive that funding, they would take out a (much) smaller construction loan of $150,000 to take advantage of a Four County Community Foundation (4CCF) grant.
In 2019, 4CCF pledged a total $100,000 toward the project, to be split between one initial gift of $50,000 to be paid once funding is in place for the remainder of the project, and up to 5 years of additional annual gifts of $10,000 per year to be used towards the repayment of a bank loan.
“Fundraising was really hurt by the pandemic,” Baldiga said. They were just kicking off a campaign last March, with postcards sent out to every mailbox in the township the day before everything shut down. The plan was to follow-up by knocking on doors, but that obviously didn’t happen.
Even so, they are close to selling the hundredth brick in the brick fundraiser. Purchasers will be able to have their bricks engraved with three lines of text. The bricks will then adorn four pillars near the entrance of the new library. They hope to sell 400 bricks altogether.
At $250 a brick, they have raised close to $25,000. They have also received over $20,000 in miscellaneous checks and the Friends of the Library has donated almost $14,000 since summer 2019.
There are a number of ways folks can contribute. They can send checks to Addison Township Public Library at 1400 Rochester Rd. Leonard, MI 48367. (Please indicate “New Building Fund” on your check.) You can also donate online through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button at lestbuildalibrary.org.
Library patrons can also help the Community Project Funding application by submitting expressions of support through a form on the website. These comments will be included in the application since only projects with evidence of strong community support will be considered. The application is due Friday, April 16.
The library has also received in-kind donations that will help keep costs down. Last month, volunteers picked up furniture and fixtures, including two circulation desks, from the Mt. Clemens and White Lake libraries. They will remain in storage until the new building is ready.
A new building would be a big step up from the 3,000-square-foot storefront the library has leased since 2011 at 1400 Rochester Rd., an older building that requires a lot of upkeep.
“We really look forward to having a brand-new facility that can support our collections and be a healthy environment for our community and our activities,” Berman said. “We promote the love of books here and we would love to be able to expand our collections and our facility for activities.”
This would be Addison Township’s first library. “Voters approved a perpetual operating millage in 1984, but there never was really a building,” Baldiga said. “At one point the library was in the back room of where the barber shop is now. You know it’s bounced around, it’s been in people’s garages. We feel really fortunate to have the space that we have right now, but it’s always been thought of as being temporary, especially since the property was donated across the road.”
Despite the pandemic, there’s still a lot happening at the library. “Considering all things, we’ve come through a tough year,” Berman said, “but we’ve managed to watch our community continue to use the library. We’ve continued to reach out to them and they’re reaching back.”
The library was closed a good portion of last year, but it has been open continuously since the end of December. “Even though we limit the amount of people that come into the building, we’re back to full services and that’s very exciting.”
There continue to be many virtual services as well. The numbers for the use of ebooks and e-audiobooks have gone up, and they will be adding thousands of magazine subscriptions to the e-collection next month.
The genealogy group continues to meet virtually and in-person once a month. And the library edition of Ancestry.com will continue to be available from home. All you need is your library card and your pin number. “There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and have fun in spite of Covid,” Berman said.
Friends of Addison Twp. Library hold silent auction
Come to the Addison Township Library from now until April 30 to make bids in the Friends of the Library’s silent auction. Four items will be sold to the highest bidder to raise funds for the library. The four items on display are a handcrafted wooden charcuterie board, a handcrafted wooden bowl, a gardening theme gift basket and a yarn theme gift basket.