By Scott Sullivan
The Douglas Planning Commission Jan. 9 approved a site plan, with conditions, for a new $4.35-million, 9,000-square-foot Sauga-tuck-Douglas District Library at 174 Center St.
SDDL officials plan to break ground across the street from the library’s current home in an 1870-s built former church, and move in — “if all goes well,” said head librarian Ingrid Boyer — early in 2020.
District voters Aug. 7 passed a 25-year, .4271-mill tax hike for building a new facility 1,377 yes votes to 768 no.
It reversed an Aug. 5, 2014, vote denying a more-ambitious request for a 26-year, 0.67 mill bond to build and equip a new 12,400-square-foot $5.14-million library on the same parcel 899 no votes to 550 yes.
Many who voted no then said they were not anti-library, but felt the proposal was over-ambitious and expensive. Some also objected to the board buying land beforehand.
The plan approved Monday calls for moving from an historic-but-antiquated, non-han-dicap-access structure into a new single-story building with amenities library officials say are needed for modern use.
Planners attached conditions that visual screening be added to the parcel’s north side, a bump with lighting be moved to the center of the front parking area and a bike parking area be added.
The new millage, which went into effect as part of the winter tax bills sent residents in December, means for an average $300,000 local home, .4271 mills per $1,000 of valuation, equating to $54.07 per year or $5.34 a month, is added to their assessments.
The library board says despite today’s eBooks and Internet, library use has increased significantly during recent years. In addition to borrowing books and DVDs, people rely on the library for free high-speed Internet, computer access, printing and faxing, educational programs and a quiet place to work and study.
Last year the SDDL saw 62,868 visitors, 62,125 total checkouts and 22,073 computer and WiFi sessions. The new building will allow staff to expand community programs and events they offer.
Ownership of the old building will revert to the City of Douglas, which intends to preserve and adapt the structure to another public use.