Kokomo — Kokomo library officials are considering four possible locations for a new bookmobile garage, including two vacant elementary schools and a downtown parking lot.
Library board president Susan Luttrell confirmed plans to build a new Outreach Building — either as a standalone or as an extension of the South Branch Library — are back on again.
Luttrell said the payment of back property taxes by Chrysler Group LLC and Delphi Corp. has revived a project that earlier this year appeared to be on hold.
The $3.7 million renovation of the Kokomo Main Library is on schedule, Luttrell said, with an Oct. 1 planned re-opening date.
Library officials had also planned, when the decision was made to renovate the Main Library last year, to build a separate structure next to the South Branch.
The Outreach Building, as board members refer to the planned structure, was to become the new home for the library’s two bookmobiles, as well as the library’s collection management department, where new materials are catalogued.
But the estimated $1.2 million cost of the structure, along with objections over aesthetics from residents of the Water’s Edge subdivision, were factors in the decision to put the project on hold.
Previous concerns Chrysler wouldn’t pay its back property taxes also left library board members with the task of closing a projected $500,000 deficit last year, and a series of cost-cutting and revenue-raising measures went into effect Aug. 3.
Changes for the public included a new 50-cent fee to check out audiovisual materials (including CDs, DVDs and videos), and shorter library hours during the week.
Cuts to library staff pay and cuts to the library’s materials budget were also put in place.
Library officials also realized if they went ahead with the Outreach Building, they would spend down the library’s cash reserves to zero.
The library board is paying for the Main Library renovation out of cash reserves, with no tax increase.
Now the library is set to receive $900,000 from Chrysler and Old Carco LLC over the next six years, and the board appears ready to resume planning for the Outreach Building.
Luttrell said planning revolves around four possible scenarios:
• Building a pre-manufactured steel building, with masonry covering the exterior walls (thus addressing the Water’s Edge complaints), next to the South Branch. Preliminary cost estimate: $1.31 million.
• Building the same building in the same location, without the masonry. Cost estimate: $1.19 million.
• Remodeling the former Columbian Elementary School. Cost estimate: $1.32 million.
• Remodeling the former Lincoln Elementary School. Cost estimate: $932,000.
A fifth possibility would involve help from the city of Kokomo.
City officials are investigating the possibility of locating a new Outreach Building at the southeast corner of Mulberry and Market streets downtown.
The lot, owned by Howard County government, would be purchased from the county for $50,000.
The city has also indicated it would be willing to refurbish a parking lot behind the Kokomo Tribune for use by Kokomo Tribune employees. In return, the Tribune would relinquish the parking lot currently used by Tribune employees, which lies directly across Mulberry Street from the library.
That plan could keep about 20 library jobs downtown, but Luttrell said library board members are split on its merits.
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said he would respect whatever decision board members make.
“At this point, knowing they’ve had some frustrations over the years, I’m really just working with them, to help them however I can,” Goodnight said Wednesday.
• 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