Another Pitch For Bloomington Library Expansion And Park Rejuvenation | WGLT

Another Pitch For Bloomington Library Expansion And Park Rejuvenation

Oct 15, 2018

The Bloomington Public Library and the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department are asking the city council to make generational facility commitments.

During a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, Library Board President Julian Westerhout said the council needs to say yes or no on a $28 million expansion project—adding on to the south of the existing library.

"We have spent, quite frankly, a bit more money than I'm comfortable with as board president in doing repeatedly again study after study. If you go back to 2000, I think we have done an enormous amount of effort," said Westerhout.

"What we need from you is we need resolution. We need direction and hopefully a commitment to fund that direction."

Library Director Jeanne Hamilton said the library has been working on the expansion issue for 18 years.

"What we need from you is we need resolution. We need direction and hopefully a commitment to fund that direction," said Hamilton.

She said the library has a lower book inventory than recommended for a community the size of Bloomington and less space per capita than industry experts recommend. An example is the 700 people who came for the start of the summer reading program.

"And this was a drop-in program that spanned a two-hour window and it required a bouncer to ensure we did not exceed the fire code," said Hamilton.

If the council answer is no, Hamilton and City Manager Tim Gleason said the library will still have to spend $2 million on a new roof and heating and air conditioning system.

The other major project coming back to the council for clarity is the Parks and Rec request for a $10 million aquatic center and new pool at O'Neil Park.

Aldermen won't decide whether to approve either or neither proposal until budget time. A few aldermen have already said they don't think the city can afford the library project without an unacceptable increase in property tax rates.

Staff said O'Neil pool needs $75,000 in work just to reopen next year.

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