The Jasper Library debate continues; split down middle

Citizens signing in for the forum
The line was long to get into the Jasper Library Public Forum. Over 130 people attended the event despite tornado warnings and hail.

On April 27 the Jasper Library Public Forum was held at the Jasper High School. The forum was held to reveal the plans for the expansion of the Jasper Public Library and to explain the referendum that will be on the ballot this fall concerning the proposal.

The event was moderated by Alan Johnson of Vincennes University. Members of the Library Board were present. Bill Sheneyfelt, the library board’s retained attorney, and a team from Universal Design Associates, the architectural firm that designed the proposed new library, also attended to answer questions.

The team went through a description of the history of the newest proposal, how they came to the current construction site decision, and why they feel it is necessary for the new library to be built.

The board is seeking a vote for the purchase of a bond in the amount of $6.3 million to cover the cost of the construction. The referendum is necessary due to the $5 million cap put in place by Mayer Bill Schmitt when the previous board began discussions about the future of the library.

The question and answer session that came afterwards was somewhat heated as members of the audience put the board, Sheneyfeld, Universal Design, and even the library’s director on the spot.

the exterior of the planned Jasper Public Library
The proposed Jasper Public Library as it could appear when finished

Concerns raised were money issues related to the new operation expenses involved, the structural integrity of the land the library would be built on and Dotty Vogler even asked if they would have it built before she passed away.

At one point when the Architect assured the land was sound and the library’s foundation would be sound, Tom Schmitt asked “can we get a warranty on that”.

Gail Grammelspacher pointed out that the proposed addition to the property tax would be outside of the caps that are currently in place for tax payers. This means that the extra tax would be added after the deduction for property owners.

After the round of questions and answers the audience was allowed to make any statements they felt needed to be aired. Each person wishing to speak was given a two minute time for their statement.

Kathy Tretter caused a stir when she asked that those in the audience that supported the referendum stand up. Immediately an unidentified woman asked members of the audience who were against the library expansion to stand. Afterwards Alan Johnson mediated by asking those that were undecided to stand.

In the audience the issue seemed to be split fairly evenly between those for and against the expansion.

If the referendum makes it to the ballot this fall the proposed wording is as follows:

“Shall the Jasper Public Library issue bonds to finance the construction of a new library located at South Newton Street, Jasper Indiana (the “Project”), which Project is estimated to cost no more than $6,300,000 and is estimated to increase the property tax rate for debt service by a maximum of $0.0524 per $100 of assessed value?”

It was pointed out that the wording could be changed prior to the vote.

Library layoutThe library envisioned onsite by Universal Design

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. As a former employee of the library, I do hope that they build on the South Newton site. This area has the resources and parking spaces that the library needs. I remember people having to park several blocks away during some of the more popular events. I also remember running out of shelf room several times, and this was 5 years ago… I can't even imagine how they are holding up now. With this new library, all the books will have proper placement and be accessible to all.

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