Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 8, 2014

Peru library goes after $400k grant

Century-old building in dire need of upgrades, officials say.

PERU — The Peru Public Library is going after a $400,000 grant that would help fund a major renovation project on the more than 110-year-old building.

The grant, which would come from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, would be part of a more than $1.3 million update to the facility, which includes installation of a new elevator and a modern heating and cooling system.

If the library secures the OCRA grant, the Dukes Health Care Foundation has also pledged $200,000 towards the project.

Library Director Charles Wagner said the rest of the funding would come from savings and donations bequeathed to the library.

Wagner said securing the grant is vital to the future of the facility, which hasn’t received any major updates in decades.

“This is the dumpiest library building I’ve been in in Indiana,” he said. “ … It’s generally an unattractive, uncomfortable and uninviting place to visit and work.”

Needed upgrades include creating more space on the main floor, better electric and lighting systems, new windows and insulation, and a new elevator — which currently only stops on three floors in the five-floor building built in 1905 — for $25,000.

“The elevator is scary,” Wagner said. “We have had patrons terrified when they get stuck … If anybody wants to see how bad the elevator is, we’ll ride them up on it.”

To get input on the proposed project, the library is hosting a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Monday in its meeting room at 102 E. Main St.

Wagner said the project architect will present the plan and library officials will listen to suggestions.

He said the public hearing is especially important, because it will determine in part if the library receives the OCRA grant.

“It’s an extraordinarily important meeting,” Wagner said. “If we don’t have a good show of support, I think we’ll have a hard time getting the grant. It’s very competitive.”

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