If library officials don’t quit pushing for a new building in McEuen Field, they will seriously alienate community donors, City Councilman Ron Edinger said Wednesday.
“All of those $5, $10 and $20 donations add up,” he said.
Edinger pushed the City Council on Tuesday to declare its support for expanding the library at its current Harrison Avenue location. Instead, the council voted to table the motion for 60 days.
The Library Board will use that time to evaluate other sites and will report back to the council. Meanwhile, it doesn’t want McEuen Field taken off the list of possibilities.
That’s a mistake, Edinger said. The opposition was overwhelming at a meeting last month at North Idaho College. Coeur d’Alene businessman Duane Hagadone had offered to donate $2 million for a new library and botanical garden at McEuen Field. The project would have required an estimated $2.7 million from private donors. Hagadone withdrew his offer after the controversy erupted.
“They should have gotten a hint from that meeting that people support the library but don’t want it at McEuen Field,” Edinger said. Everywhere he goes people tell him they want the library remodeled and not moved.
“Only three people have told me it should be down at McEuen Field,” he said. “I will fight with all my strength to keep it from being McEuen Field.”
Councilwoman Nancy Sue Wallace doesn’t support giving the library a “no-McEuen” mandate and opposed Edinger’s motion. “I did not want to tie the hands of the Library Board,” Wallace said.
“I don’t think we’ve given the Library Board and the library foundation the chance to present where they want it and why they want it there.”
McEuen Field is a viable possibility as long as a building doesn’t displace any recreational facilities, said Robert Farr, chairman of the Library Board.
The library potentially could either be built in the northeast corner of the park or at the site of the city Parks and Recreation Building without encroaching on recreation.
“Part of our process is to decide on a site and present all of the information to the public,” Farr added.
The Library Board may consider a new location, which came to Farr’s attention Wednesday. He would not disclose that potential site.
Building at Person Field or remodeling the existing building still are being considered, he added.
Expanding the current building, however, is problematic. It would require buying several surrounding lots, moving homes, and bringing a remodeled building up to new federal standards for access under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
“We suspect that would cost almost $1 million more,” Farr said.
Wallace said the council needs to hear more before remodeling or McEuen Field become the focus of discussion. She wants to know what the library is going to need 30 years from now and what it needs today.
“Basically, they have to prove to me why they need to expand,” she said.