MONTICELLO — There is apparently now a third option as the Allerton Public Library Board considers its building needs.
After an executive session to discuss the possible purchase or lease of real estate, the library board Wednesday voted to hold a special meeting Oct. 9 to continue discussions regarding a possible new location for the library.
"This leaves us going into the special meeting to discuss this new option we have been offered," said library board Chairwoman Sue Gortner. She would not specify what the third option is.
The board purchased 10.98 acres of land on the west side of town last December with the intention of building a new library, but in recent months has been criticized for not giving more consideration to purchasing or remodeling the downtown-area 1897 Community Building that currently houses the library.
Last month, board attorney John Fultz said it may be difficult to lease the current building from the township in order to expand into other areas of the structure, but audience member Rex Kallembach felt the implied lease going back over a century sets a precedent.
"We've been here for 116 years. I think that's a long-term lease," said Kallembach. "I don't know what the legal minds have come up with, but the community is all for staying at this location."
With the third option now on the table, the board decided not to act on two agenda items that revolved around the first two scenarios: A study that would estimate the cost of renovating the current site, and going ahead with schematic design for the new building, which would go on the 10.98 acres on Green Apple Lane.
For now, that leaves the possibility of a third option, which will likely be revealed at the Oct. 9 session.
A search for building options began in 2008 when the library district began receiving money from the Max Hency estate, an account that has earned $2.9 million. It eventually led to the purchase of the west side land from Carle Clinic in December of 2012. Some of the reasons given for pursuing a new building included better handicapped accessibility, expansion of current and new collections and room for more computers.
Board members also said they favored a single-floor library. In order to expand at the current structure, the library would likely need to expand to the second floor, which currently has meeting rooms.
After the purchase of the land, some members of the community suggested the library should remain downtown and have also questioned library use figures given for state reports, some of which were as high as 493,000 in 2009.
Librarian Lisa Winters said since there is no automatic counter at Allerton, a one-week survey counting anyone who comes in the door is conducted for the state survey, but that those figures were not used in planning for future library space.