After months of wrangling, the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library appears to be close to finalizing plans for a new downtown library building.
Wednesday, Kokomo city officials took a major step necessary to engineer a parking lot swap between the library board and the Kokomo Tribune, paying $18,000 for a lot at 215 E. Taylor St., owned by Third Wave Properties LLC.
The swap would provide the library with a new parking area, replacing the area the library board will lose when it builds a new structure.
The city also plans to spend money refurbishing three parking lots, including the 215 E. Taylor St. lot (now home to an urban garden), the old AT&T lot at the southwest corner of Taylor and Market streets, and the lot currently used by Kokomo Tribune employees, directly across Mulberry Street from the Main Library.
“I think this is a good opportunity for the city and the library board to work together,” Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said Wednesday. “This will put a substantial investment in downtown, and it also enables us to clear up a couple parking lots, to improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood.”
Tribune publisher Robyn McCloskey said she expects to see a formal written proposal for the parking lot swap/improvements soon.
“The Kokomo Tribune is agreeable to the concept of trading its parking lot for a comparably sized lot appropriately improved,” McCloskey said, adding that the details of the swap and improvements will still need to be negotiated and approved.
Plans call for the library to build on a lot at the southeast corner of Market and Mulberry streets. The project contract, which could be awarded in October, is expected to call for a completion date of May-August 2012.
Library director Charles Joray said the board wants to build a structure to house two library departments — outreach and collections management — with a brick exterior similar in color and appearance to the exterior of the Main Library.
Having the clerical functions of the library remain close to the Main Library will help from a logistics standpoint, Joray said.
The collections management staff oversee the weeding of materials from the library’s collection, and the purchase and cataloguing of new materials.
“The biggest recipient is the main building, so it’s very close for [collections management] to deliver materials,” Joray said.
The project is expected to cost about $900,000, and isn’t expected to require a tax increase.
• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He may be reached at 765-454-8569 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org