New library site: InnovisThe James River Valley Library System Board has reached agreement on the purchase of the Innovis Health lot as the site for a new building to house the Alfred Dickey and Stutsman County libraries. The site, which includes the parking lot across the street, is 67,665 square feet of land. Located at the corner of Third Street and Fourth Avenue Southeast, a small house to the east is also part of the lot.
The James River Valley Library System Board has reached agreement on the purchase of the Innovis Health lot as the site for a new building to house the Alfred Dickey and Stutsman County libraries.
The site, which includes the parking lot across the street, is 67,665 square feet of land. Located at the corner of Third Street and Fourth Avenue Southeast, a small house to the east is also part of the lot.
“This is the best site. It’s centrally located and much bigger than you’d expect,” said Daphne Drewello, the library director.
Board President Dale Marks said they have been negotiating with Innovis on the lot, working on a price agreeable to both parties. Innovis started with a purchase price of $690,000. The cost of razing the buildings was left in the hands of the library board. It countered with an offer of $600,000.
“We had an estimate of $150,000 to tear down the building from RTS Shearing,” Marks said. “But when it came to asbestos, we didn’t know who or how to get that done.”
So Innovis authorized the asbestos study of the property and that put the price much higher. The cost of asbestos removal came in at $243,000.
“We were very glad we were taking it slow,” Marks said. “These expenses on top of the $600,000 almost did us in.”
Innovis came back with the $690,000 figure. At that purchase price it agreed to pay to demolish the buildings, remove asbestos and fill the hole. Marks said that offer saves the board nearly $400,000 in costs.
The purchase agreement is the right of first refusal on the property as the library board doesn’t have the $690,000 purchase price. Marks said he has talked to the Alfred Dickey Library Foundation about raising the money.
“We’d also like to appeal to people who are interested in donating buckets of money,” Marks said.
“If they find another buyer, we need to pony up quickly,” Drewello added.
Marks said he has been impressed with the Innovis’ willingness to work with the board.
“What’s struck me is how willing Innovis has been to help us out,” he said.
Peter Jacobson, senior vice president of clinical operations at Innovis Health, said working with the library board benefits both parties.
“We’re pleased to work with the library board,” Jacobson said. “The library will be a great new asset to the community and it helps us with our transition plans.”
Although it’s not official yet, Jacobson said Innovis Health intends to move into the medical office building connected to the new Jamestown Regional Medical Center.
The Innovis site chosen for the new library is about two blocks east of the present Alfred Dickey building. The library board had considered the Eagles building site at Second Avenue and Third Street Southwest as well as more than 20 other sites. Drewello and Jim Nyland, board vice president, said the intent all along has been to make sure the new site was centrally located.
“We’ve gone out of our way to keep the library downtown,” Nyland said. “It should be in the heart of the town.”
The process of siting a new facility started in the fall of 2007 before Alfred Dickey and Stutsman County libraries merged. Once the James River Valley Library System was formed in late 2008 the new board revisited the need for a new facility, sites and options. It came to the same conclusion — a new building to house both libraries and the bookmobile was needed.
“The delay caused by the merger allowed us to get the input we needed from the county staff,” Nyland said. “We’re not doing any of this fast, but we are doing it right.”
Before the merger, Alfred Dickey Board had hired Michael Burns as the architect in early 2008. He brought on board Rick McCarthy, of Burnidge, Cassell Associates, which specializes in library design. McCarthy made a number of on-site visits to determine community and staff space plus activity needs in a new facility — now and years later.
“We had a nationally-recognized consultant help us to focus on making the library work into the future,” Drewello said. “We own all that information.”
Now, the board is looking for a new architect.
“Mike Burns didn’t share the same vision we had,” Nyland and Marks said of the decision.
The library board had hoped to put a bond issue on the ballot in the November election, but there wasn’t time. Securing first refusal on the site just occurred. An architect is needed to do a concept design of the new facility and cost estimates.
Drewello said the board is looking at a special election in May.
“My impression is the purchase price (of the property) could be rolled into the election,” she said.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org