POWELL — Plans are moving forward for the Delaware County District Library (DCDL) to construct a new branch to serve Powell and Liberty Township residents.
During a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liberty Township Branch Committee Monday, the committee approved both a recommendation to the DCDL Board of Trustees to purchase the land for the branch, as well as an estimate on the total project cost.
The conceptual total project cost from SHP for the new Powell library is $14,416,338, with the estimated cost of the land purchase coming in at $200,000. DCDL Director George Needham told the committee during the meeting that the total figure for the construction is simply an estimate, and a more accurate number won’t be known until they move forward with the “technical drawings” and bids are received on all that goes into constructing a new building.
Proposed in renderings is a two-story building, which is estimated to span 20-25,000 square feet and would be constructed on the corner of Home Road and Steitz Road. The library branch will be included within the Middlebury Crossing development at the site, which was approved by Powell City Council in July 2019.
“I’m pretty excited. I think it’s going to be a really great addition to the Delaware County system,” Needham said. “The community, I think, is just going to eat it with a spoon. They’re going to love it.”
Asked about the finances secured by DCDL to cover the cost of construction, DCDL Fiscal Officer Angela Cox said she had “sticker shock” when she first saw the estimated cost of construction. “At first, it was like, ‘I have $8 million, you think that’s plenty,” she said. “We’ll have to borrow some money, so we will have to … issue notes.”
A large reason for the higher-than-expected estimation is the inclusion of a finished basement in the plans. Cox said of the basement, “I would think that if we’re going to borrow money and extend notes, we would go ahead and finish the basement, pay for it all (upfront), and not think, ‘Oh, we’ll do that later.’ Just rip (the Band-Aid) off, borrow all you need, and get it all done.”
Cox said that if DCDL is going to open a new building and have it be its “showplace,” the district doesn’t want to leave any aspect of the project to be completed at a later time.
Given the instability of the economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cox was asked about the impact it might have on DCDL’s revenue. Cox said, “Of course I’m concerned. But we’re still operating on an income tax base in Delaware County. That’s the majority of our funding. So, unless we’re seeing everyone defaulting and not paying their property taxes, which I don’t think is going to happen, I am optimistic … and we’re not going to see mass foreclosures.”
Needham pointed out that DCDL built the Orange Branch Library while the country was “in the depths of the Great Recession,” saying, “We do have a track record of doing things when things are not necessarily as rosy as always.”
The DCDL board is scheduled to meet and discuss the recommendation from the committee at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 16.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.