Board still considering Essentia for library siteAfter considering renovating and adding to Alfred Dickey Library, the James River Valley Library System Board of Directors decided to continue pursuing the Essentia site for building a new library.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
After considering renovating and adding to Alfred Dickey Library, the James River Valley Library System Board of Directors decided to continue pursuing the Essentia site for building a new library.
“By the consensus of the committee, those other sites were ruled out,” said Dale Marks, president of the board. “Whether we can swing this option with Essentia or not, time will tell. We’re going to have to find private money to build a library.”
The board had discussed buying, removing asbestos from and then demolishing the Straus building next to Alfred Dickey Library to build an addition there.
However, the cost of doing so would likely be about the same as the cost of purchasing the Essentia property, Marks said, and that cost included demolition and asbestos-removal costs.
The Jamestown City Council denied a request on April 4 to purchase the Essentia property for $690,000 pending funding through fundraising or a future tax vote. It sent the library board back to the drawing board to re-examine its alternatives for a new library.
Another site that was re-examined as a possibility was the Eagles building, which would also have demolition and asbestos-removal costs.
The Eagles building alone would be too small, and costs of expanding would add up quickly, because a building to the east or to the north would also have to be purchased and demolished, Marks said. Expanding the Eagles building across the alley would cost $1 million just to move the utilities, Marks said.
“It’s cost-prohibitive,” he said. “You can’t do something like that.”
Addition to and renovation of the Alfred Dickey building was carefully examined, but the board decided it was not the community’s best option.
If Alfred Dickey is kept as a library, it would have to have extensive renovations to keep up with changes in library use.
Even renovating Alfred Dickey Library and an addition would not give the library more parking, nor room for a bookmobile, Marks said.
Because of the limited space, any addition would have to be two floors, which would add the expense of an elevator to the project, indicated Travis Dillman, a senior project engineer with Interstate Engineering, which has been working with the library on its expansion options.
Demolishing the Straus building would also have pitfalls, because it may have a shared wall with the adjacent building, or old coal chutes under the sidewalk.
“I see the demolition of that site being somewhat tricky,” Dillman said.
Barb Laraway, another member of the board, said using the Essentia site would help the library board avoid the unforeseen costs and pitfalls of renovating or demolishing buildings made long before building codes.
She referred to the recent renovation of the Buffalo City Grill, another downtown building, which was once a store. During renovations, its owners removed the raised area by the windows only to find there was no floor underneath. They had to build one.
“To me, Essentia is the absolute (best) site, because for a total of 6 and some thousand, they will do everything,” Laraway said. “Otherwise, whoever tears down a building has to pay someone to tear stuff down, haul it away and take care of the asbestos.”
If the library moves to a new location, that does not mean the end of the Alfred Dickey building.
“We do not want to demolish the Alfred Dickey. We want to preserve that building, somehow,” Marks said.
The board will continue to examine its alternatives regarding the Essentia space, and is considering its fundraising options.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org