CROWN POINT | The Crown Point Community Library Board unanimously approved a preliminary bond resolution for a new library building that could open in January 2013, giving the project its first official go-ahead.
Adam Decker, the library board's attorney, said the approval will be published -- likely next week -- opening up a 30-day period for remonstration. That means local taxpayers and voters will have an opportunity to sign competing petitions to block the project.
The vote Tuesday night in the auditorium of Crown Point High School marked the beginning of a long process to fund and build a new, almost $12 million library building to span the full length of Robinson Court between Main and East streets.
A representative from H.J. Umbaugh & Associates told the about 20 people at the public meeting the new facility would be funded with two bonds, one for about $1.5 million toward the end of this year and another next year for about $10.5 million.
The finances of the project were brought up by a handful of speakers during the public hearing portion of the meeting, including by city resident Vivian Dillon, who told the board the country no longer is "rich, industrial and booming."
Another resident, Laura Neal, said she thought the board should be responsible fiscally moving forward, but she believed the expense was worth what is gained.
"Public libraries are a great equalizer," she said. "That's a resource that is always available to us."
The new library would affect homeowners in the library district, which is the same as the Crown Point Community Schools district, over 20 years. That means a homeowner in Center or Winfield townships who owns a $100,000 home would pay an additional $12.67 annually, and a homeowner with a $200,000 home would pay an additional $37.83.
City resident Pat McCarrin asked about the current operating budget of the library and how the new building would affect it.
Library director Lynn Frank said this year's estimated operating budget is about $1.1 million, and because the opening of the new building is about three years away, she couldn't estimate what the budget then would be. However, because of the energy efficiency that the new building will have, as well as technology such as self-checkout machines to help free up staff for other areas, she is hopeful the budget will remain similar.
The library is preliminarily planned to be two full floors with a partial third floor designated for administration. The other two floors would be divided into sections for various age groups and types of materials as well as study rooms, meeting rooms, a coffee shop and computer areas.