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Published: 7/5/2002

Former Rite Aid store is out as a replacement

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The South Toledo library at 1638 Broadway is too small, is inaccessible to people with disabilities, and lacks the access to computers and the Internet that other branches have, leaders say. The South Toledo library at 1638 Broadway is too small, is inaccessible to people with disabilities, and lacks the access to computers and the Internet that other branches have, leaders say.
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The former Rite Aid store at 1719 Broadway, a building Toledo-Lucas County Public Library officials have coveted as a replacement for the South branch library, is no longer under consideration.

Charlie Oswanski, the library's operations supervisor, said the library started negotiations in May with the Harrisburg, Pa.-based chain and Zyndorf/Serchuk, the broker for the store's property owner, to see whether a deal could be reached. Mr. Oswanski said library officials felt that progress was not being made.

“The Rite Aid site is [off the table],” he said. “I don't see anything that would change that, but I learned a long time ago to never say never. At this point, it just doesn't make financial sense for us.”

It is the second time the Rite Aid site has fallen through. One of the stumbling blocks is that the drug store chain has a lease on the building through 2007.

Failure to come to a compromise on the lease led to the library walking away from the building last year.

Mr. Oswanski said library officials wanted to look again at buying the building when Rite Aid's competitor, CVS, moved out of the Toledo area, but the lease continued to be a problem.

That leaves the library system with the current location at 1638 Broadway as the lone area where it could replace the structure or expand in South Toledo.

City Councilman Bob McCloskey, whose district includes the branch library, said it's time for the library system to move forward with plans because residents of South Toledo have waited long enough for a new library.

“This should have been done yesterday,” Mr. McCloskey said. “They act like [the $1.3 million construction money] is their money. They've built some nice libraries in Oregon and other places, and South Toledo deserves nothing less than what they did in those places.”

Library spokesman Chris Kozak said the library has been paying attention to residents' concerns but doesn't want to rush into anything.

“We realize that this isn't our library but the community's library,” Mr. Kozak said. “We want to make the best use of the building and do what the public wants us to do there.”

Community leaders in South Toledo have long complained that the branch is too small, is inaccessible to people with disabilities, and doesn't have the same access to computers and the Internet as other branches.

The building, constructed in the early 20th century, is one of the last of the original Carnegie libraries in Toledo still operating without major renovations.

Mr. McCloskey said a new library could be used as an anchor for redevelopment of the old South Toledo area. Many activists have mentioned the new Sanger branch library at 3030 West Central Ave. as what they would like to see constructed in South Toledo.

“The Rite Aid building had no architectural value to it,” Mr. McCloskey said. “We want something that's going to make a statement and something that the people of South Toledo can be proud of. It should be a design the people want and that helps revitalize the area.”

Mr. Oswanski said library officials have asked architects to concentrate on the current location.

“We're going to look at all options at the present site,” Mr. Oswanski said. “They're excited about it and are working on designs. I think we're probably a couple of months away from having another public hearing.”



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