(Plain Press, June 2015) On May 7th about 40 stakeholders interested in the fate of the South Branch of the Cleveland Public Library gathered at Lincoln West High School to receive an update on the Community Vision Plan for the library and to offer their input. At the onset of the meeting Cleveland Public Library Trustee Thomas Corrigan stressed that no decision had been made on the future of the historic Carnegie library building that had housed the South Branch Library before its move to a Clark Avenue location in front of the Family Dollar Store.
Consultants from the Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative then offered those in attendance an update on feedback from the first community meeting and meetings with other stakeholders including a group of students from Lincoln West High School.
The stakeholders in attendance were then asked to offer their input as to their preference among a number of options for the future of the South Branch. Those options included: 1) Preserve and reuse the historic Carnegie South building; 2) partial use of the Historic Carnegie South building to allow 50% of the building to be used for a private business to qualify for historic tax credits; 3) renovate Carnegie South building and add an addition on the back: 4) building a new building; 4) leasing a new building; and 5) having two branch buildings – the historic Carnegie Library building plus the leased building on Clark Avenue.
The third option above was added when research into the original plan for the building resulted in the discovery of an addition included in the design. The addition was never built because funds for the Carnegie libraries allocated to Cleveland ran out.
Current estimates for the cost of rehabbing the 8,350 square foot Carnegie South Branch Library building come in at $3.2 million. A new building of the similar size is estimated to cost $2.4 million. Adding an addition would cost roughly $250 per square foot. Planners said the addition could provide some savings that would lower the cost of the rehab of the historic portion of the building by making it easier to add handicap access and other features.
To compare size needed for a neighborhood library several contrasting sizes were offered. The new Cleveland Public Library Rice Branch is 11,400 square feet. The current temporary branch of the South Branch Library on Clark Avenue is 3,000 square feet.
Stakeholders were also asked about their opinions about the importance of a number of features or resources that could be incorporated into the South Branch Library: quiet rooms, lounge seating areas, indoor plants and vegetation, 3-D Printers, laptops available for use, interactive walls, outdoor art, outdoor reading area, parking, and library kiosks.
In early June, the data gathered on the preferences of neighborhood stakeholders will be presented to the South Branch Advisory Committee. Following a review by the Neighborhood Advisory Committee the Community Vision Plan for the South Branch will be presented to the Cleveland Public Library Board of Trustees at their June meeting. Cleveland Public Library Trustee Corrigan said no budget has been set for the plan. He said the Cleveland Public Library would seek funding for the plan after it is selected. For more information about the Community Vision Plan visit: www.cpl150.org.