Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 14, 2010

Library board narrows choices for new building

Lincoln School still a possibility to house library offices, bookmobile garage

Tribune staff writer

Kokomo — Kokomo-Howard County Public Library officials are still considering three options for the future location of library offices and a bookmobile garage, and hope to narrow the list further next month, library board president Susan Luttrell said Thursday.

The former Lincoln Elementary School, a downtown parking lot and the South Branch Library are the locations left on the table after the board’s May 10 meeting.

If the library builds on the South Branch property, it would be an addition to the existing library building, Luttrell said, possibly around 9,400 square feet.

The ideas of occupying the former Columbian Elementary School (the current interim location for the Main Library), or of building a free-standing structure on the South Branch property were rejected at the meeting.

Library board members also discussed the possibility of another upgrade to the Main Library renovation, with architect Mike Montgomery suggesting it might be possible to stain the brown brick exterior.

The board had initially rejected the idea of covering the bricks with an exterior “skin,” saying it was too costly. Staining the bricks, which date to 1965, would be a less expensive option, Luttrell said. Montgomery has been asked to research the cost, she said.

The Outreach Building, which would house the bookmobiles and about 20 clerical positions, is expected to cost somewhere around $1 million, according to estimates released earlier this month.

Luttrell said board members decided building onto the South Branch building would be the best option, as an addition would blend in and would provide more options in the future if the bookmobile program was ever discontinued.

She said Lincoln was preferred to Columbian because of Lincoln’s smaller size. And she confirmed discussions are ongoing with Kokomo city officials and county officials about the county-owned parking lot immediately east of the Main Library.

County officials, she said, are still considering whether to sell the lot to the library for its $50,000 asking price, or simply donate it to the library.

Library officials haven’t ruled out building on the lot, but have insisted that building there be cost-neutral with the other Outreach Building options, meaning any environmental studies or any needed cleanup work would have to be covered by the city.

Meanwhile the $3.7 million renovation of the Kokomo Main Library is on schedule, Luttrell said, and it’s possible the renovated building could reopen to the public as early as the end of August.

Library officials expect to get a better grasp on when the building will be ready after a planned June 23 construction update, she said.

• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He may be reached at 765-454-8569 or via e-mail at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com