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Published: Friday, 9/15/2006

Board OKs borrowing for library parking lot

WALBRIDGE - Trustees for the Wood County District Public Library agreed Wednesday night to take out a $350,000 loan to pay for a controversial new parking lot just west of the main library in Bowling Green.

Scott McEwen, president of the board, said the loan would allow the library to finance the $150,000 purchase price of the lot at the corner of North Church and West Court streets, along with an estimated $200,000 in construction costs.

Those include $60,000 for paving, $40,000 for retaining walls, $20,000 for landscaping, $10,000 for lighting, and $18,250 in design and engineering fees from Poggemeyer Design Group of Bowling Green.

Also rolled into the bill was $31,900 for demolition of the house that sat on the lot when it was owned by Bob Maurer and $15,000 for earth removal.

The library purchased the property from Mr. Maurer on July 31 and agreed to pay the costs of clearing the site, which was done a year ago.

The demolition prompted protests from neighbors and preservationists upset to see the house razed, the towering trees cut down, and the hill the house sat upon excavated.

Library Trustee Jane Robb asked whether taking on the $350,000 debt - which would cost the library $2,333 a month for 20 years - would jeopardize the library's ability to do other projects, such as buying a new bookmobile or putting a new roof on the Walbridge branch, where Wednesday's meeting was held.

Library Director Elaine Paulette said she did not believe it would jeopardize those projects.

Trustees looked over three designs for the parking lot that contained between 39 and 50 parking spaces but did not settle on a final proposal.

While the library hopes to build the parking lot before winter, trustees continued last night to debate whether they should keep or sell the red brick house next to the proposed parking lot.

The library bought that house last year for $250,000 in order to use the side yard for the new parking lot.

Newly appointed board member Chet Marcin said he would like to see the library rent the second floor as an apartment and convert the basement level to an apartment. He said the main floor could then be used by the library for meeting space.

Trustees continued to question the cost of such a plan and ultimately agreed to seek proposals from architectural firms that could be hired to determine what needs to be done to the house and what it would cost.

Trustee Nick Ezzone said he still has reservations about it.

"I think [the house] is in really bad need of repair," he said. "I want to know where is the money going to come from? How much is it going to cost?"

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