Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 26, 2009

Library still looking downtown

New building on Mulberry Street still a possibility

The Kokomo-Howard County Library Board is moving ahead with plans to renovate the Main Library, but one key piece of the plan remains up in the air.

Whether the library board builds a 10,000-square-foot Outreach Building downtown or locates the building next to the South Branch will depend largely on outside funding, board president Susan Luttrell said Thursday.

Several entities, including the city of Kokomo, Howard County government and the Center Township trustee, could be instrumental in making a downtown location cost neutral.

But time is a consideration, as the majority of library board members wants the issue settled by the end of April, Luttrell said.

“We’ve tried to play ball,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to find a place in downtown Kokomo, but it has been.”

Library board member Tom Trine and his brother, Howard County Commissioner Dave Trine, have been working to line up potential funding to help keep the library downtown.

Earlier this month, the Trines presented a proposal to both expand the Main Library and locate a new Outreach Building downtown.

But the library board decided against that proposal — known as the ROCKET Plan — saying it could cost up to $2 million more than the plan adopted by the board in December.

And Monday, city officials told the board they’d abandoned a separate plan to renovate the old Firestone building across Union Street from the Main Library.

The cost to renovate the building to house both the Outreach Building and space for commercial tenants was simply too high, city engineer Carey Stranahan said.

Though neither of those plans came to fruition, Tom Trine is still hoping to at least locate a new Outreach Building downtown.

Luttrell said the only site still under discussion is directly across Mulberry Street from the Main Library, and would involve purchasing parking areas now owned by the Kokomo Tribune.

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