Archive for Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tonganoxie City Council agrees to fund new library for $3.75 million; officials had asked for $5.1 million

December 6, 2017, 5:30 p.m.

Updated: December 7, 2017, 10:22 a.m.

Editor's note: The print edition and original version of this story included incorrect information about the asking price for property on the former Tonganoxie Elementary School campus for a proposed new public library. This story has been updated with a correct figure.

Tonganoxie is moving forward with plans for a new library, but the funding amount will likely require considerable compromise.

Council Member Kara Reed, with a second from fellow Council Member Curtis Oroke, made a motion to earmark $3.75 million for a new library. That would cover building costs, along with land acquisition of a portion of the former Tonganoxie Elementary School land.

The council approved an intent to purchase the land contingent upon appraisals of the land.

Tongie 5 LLC, which owns the land, is asking $290,000 for a portion at the southern end of the property.

The group, which is local residents Kay Soetaert, Ben Robbins, Drew Johnson, Steve Miller and Chris Gratton, is looking to redevelop the entire former TES campus.

Tonganoxie residents who are working to redevelop the entire block, are asking $247,000 for the land.

Revenue from a 20-year 3/4-cent sales tax, which Tonganoxie voters approved earlier this year through a mail-in ballot, will pay for the library, along with a prioritized list of infrastructure projects.

The sales tax replaced a 10-year sales tax initiative of the same rate that funded Tonganoxie Water Park.

Library officials estimated that a new library would cost between $3 million and $3.6 million. But as the project became a reality, current prices showed an anticipated price tag near $5.1 million.

Library supporters told stories of what the current library has meant to their families, whether it be for the community involvement, its various programs or an opportunity to keep students fed through the Chieftain Cafe after-school program.

All who spoke at the meeting agreed that the library has outgrown its current space, but opinions varied on how much should be spent and what the size of the new library should be.

Monday’s meeting drew an overflow crowd of nearly 50 people, with the library discussion consuming much of the meeting’s time.

The next regular council meeting will be 7 p.m. Dec. 19 in City Council chambers.

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