Council tours library to view building issues

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published January 27, 2016

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The Troy City Council took a long look between the stacks at the Troy Public Library Jan. 12 during a special study session.

“The purpose of the tour was to show the council what we have done and what building issues need to be done this year,” said Assistant Library Director Phillip Kwik.

Mayor Dane Slater said the best use of the Troy Civic Center, which includes the library, will be a topic the council, the Planning Commission, the Downtown Development Authority and city leaders will discuss at an upcoming retreat at the end of February.

“We’ll be talking about everything in the Civic Center complex, including City Hall, as part of the discussion going forward,” Slater said. “We think it’s going to be a really good discussion.”

Following the retreat, the City Council will begin the budget process.

“It’s a tired building that’s been added onto,” Slater said of the library. “The roof is 12 years old.”

During the tour, the council saw improvements made last year to the library roof and the lighting system, new shelving in the youth services area and repairs to the basement to stop flooding. Council members were also briefed on work planned for this year.

Those improvements include: finishing the lobby signs directing patrons to where items and collections are located, replacing 30- to 40-year-old skylights, and renovating the story and craft area for children.

Last year, $263,860 was earmarked for capital improvements to the library — $107,000 for signage in the library to allow better flow of patron traffic and $156,860 to repair leaks in the building — both funded from a dedicated library millage.

The library is funded by a five-year, 0.7-mill dedicated tax that voters first approved in 2010 and renewed in November 2015. It raises over $3 million a year. The current-year budget for the library, which council approved last spring, is $3.6 million.

In addition to that, the library has gotten some unexpected funds on behalf of patrons who loved the library.

Martin Wunsch donated $50,000 on behalf of the estate of Lucille Makarov, his friend and neighbor at the Northfield Hills Condominiums who was part of the library’s outreach program.

Makarov’s donation funded a makeover of the teen area as a more defined space with new furniture. It will also be used to renovate the youth services story and craft rooms with new technology and furniture that is easier to rearrange to accommodate different programs. New items for the adult services collection also will be purchased.

The Friends of the Troy Public Library received a generous donation from John Rhinehart to establish a legacy fund.

The group funds all programming at the library and runs the Friends Book Shop and Friends Shop at the library.

The group’s average yearly contribution to the library is about $50,000.

Last year, almost $50,000 from that legacy fund allowed them to redo the meeting room furniture, the chairs and tables.

Rhinehart was a longtime member of the Friends and he used the library often.

Slater said that the money for the signs directing patrons to where things are was “well-spent.”

“I was impressed with that improvement,” Slater said.

He said the council was also impressed with the improvements funded by the Friends, and all that the Friends do.

“Cathy Russ (library director) and the staff are great and should be commended for the work they do,” Slater added.

Councilwoman Ellen Hodorek said that the feeling she came away with from the tour was that the Friends of the Troy Public Library, the library staff and community leaders are “working together and looking out for the future of the library.”

“We had a really positive discussion about protecting what is a tremendous asset,” she said, noting that the facility itself is wearing out.

Troy City Manager Brian Kischnick said the purpose of the tour was to bring the new council members up to speed on what’s happening at the library. He noted that the council has slated money in previous years from the budget for maintenance of the city-owned historic village and nature center, although the city does not fund operating costs or programming at those facilities. He said that if the council made a decision to help to fund improvements to the library, over and above funds generated by the voter-approved millage, it would come from the city’s capital fund.

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