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After several years of planning, the Owen County Public Library Board of Directors intends to build a new library facility, according to library Director Jennifer Nippert.
Discussions began in 2007 and a long-range plan was formed by a committee of 15 Owen County citizens, the library staff, and a long-range plan facilitator from Kentucky Department of Library Archives (KDLA).
The plan included the recommendation that the library have enough space to meet all of the library’s needs as determined by KDLA standards. These standards are based on the county’s projected population growth over the next 20 years.
Nippert said that based on Owen County’s current population, about 10,000 square feet are necessary. The library’s present facility has only 4,600 square feet.
The library advertised for proposals from property owners and received five: 13 acres of land on Cull Road, with an undetermined price; the Full Service Automotive building and acreage located on Hwy. 127 at $289,000; 8.8 acres on Hwy. 22 at $250,000; 8.09 acres on Hwy. 127 North at $120,000; and 4.3 acres on Hwy. 22 East, near the Hi Y-Inn at $175,000. The library board decided on the latter.
The property is owned by Blue Moon Investors. Nippert said although the property near the Hi Y-Inn is one the library board agrees on, no official offer has been made.
The board has chosen an architectural firm for the project, Brandstetter Carroll Inc. of Lexington. During the board’s regular meeting Friday, C.D. Bowling was chosen to be the financial consultant for the project.
Nippert said the estimated cost of the entire project is $2.5 million to $3 million.
“As far as funding for the project goes, there are different types of loans. There’s a USDA rural development loan that we can look at. There’s fund raising, and there is a library foundation, which has funds at their disposal for these types of projects. The primary source of funding for this type of project is to sell bonds.”
Nippert said because the location is outside the city limits, the City of Owenton would lose the occupational tax it collects from the library’s employees. Last year, Owenton collected $2,089 in occupational taxes from library employees.
Nippert said the library’s main source of income comes from Owen County property taxes; therefore, the people of Owenton will not have to pay any more taxes than they do now.
The board voted to take a 4-percent tax increase in 2009, raising the real-estate rate to 10.8. The personal property and motor vehicle rates did not change.
Nippert said it’s hard to tell whether or not the library board will raise taxes this year.
“We can’t be sure what’s going to happen at this point,” Nippert said. “We will have to rely on the advice of our financial consultant.”
Nippert said she understands the concerns from residents of Owenton who may lose accessibility to the library by moving it out of the city limits, but she thinks the move will benefit the county in the long run.
Nippert said 4.3 acres will provide plenty of room for parking. “Our staff and the people we service will be better accommodated in that way. There will be room for us to expand in the future if we need to. For those who may no longer be able to walk to the library, we do have an outreach service where we get materials to those who can’t get out. If the site works out, we’ll be very close to all of the schools and it will be a natural stop on the way home from school, and it’s within walking distance.”
Nippert said the move could alleviate some safety concerns.
“People will be able to park in a safe place,” Nippert said. “There won’t be anyone wishing they could stop at the library, but drive by because they don’t see any parking spots. They won’t have to park across the street in a place that doesn’t belong to us and cross traffic on a busy highway.”
Nippert said the future of the current library facility is unknown, but she thinks it would make a great Owen County welcome center or tourist stop of some sort.
A timeline prepared by Monica Summer of Brandstetter Carroll Inc. indicated that a bidder will be awarded with a contract Nov. 19, and project construction could begin January 2011. A grand opening of the new facility is planned for April 2012.
Nippert said that as of now, nothing is set in stone.
“We’re always willing to continue to listen,” Nippert said. “We’re more than happy to hear feedback from concerned folks because after all, it’s their library.”
“I also want people to realize that this is a long process, and what we end up doing may look very different from what we are envisioning now,” Nippert said. “When we have a more definite plan about how these things are going to happen, we will hold public meetings and invite everyone to attend.”