At the regular Meeting of the Belleville Area District Library Board on Sept. 11, the issue of the poor relationship with the Belleville City Council on library siting came up once again.
Library Board Chairman Mary Jane Dawson recounted the most recent interaction with the city council, when, in response to a letter from the board to the council asking for a meeting, the “city preferred to table or take it under advisement rather than meet with us … We have no plans to meet with the city.”
The library has been seeking donation of the library property and other sites to the district library, but has not decided where to put its new library building as yet, with the favored site being the DNR property north of the Belleville Bridge in Van Buren Township.
Board Treasurer Elaine Gutierrez suggested maybe the board could come up with a different approach.
“Like what?” Dawson asked.
Gutierrez said the city wants more details.
“Our approach was to ask for the sun and the moon and the stars,” Gutierrez said.
“We just asked for a meeting, not the sun or moon,” Dawson replied.
“They’re looking for a plan or layout or something,” Gutierrez insisted.
Dawson recounted the history of the board’s request last February that said if they decided to put the building downtown they would need certain sites. She said the council voted to individually come up with questions and give them to the city manager who would pass them on to Dawson. But, she received no questions.
She said on July 18, the library finally heard something from the city, asking which streets they want closed and other questions. That’s when the board suggested a meeting.
“We weren’t asking for a decision, just to sit down to talk…” Dawson said.
Mike Renaud, who is a member of the city planning commission, said the issue is like a hot potato being tossed back and forth between the city and the library.
Dawson said the city’s decision to take the request for a meeting “under advisement” means, “don’t hold your breath,” according to her governmental friends.
George Chedraue, an attorney who is running for a seat on the library board, suggested the board could be a little more conciliatory. He suggested they go to Van Buren Township and Sumpter Township and talk to them about what they could offer.
“You don’t know we haven’t gone to them,” Dawson said. “I was asking for a meeting.”
“You were demanding a meeting,” Chedraue said.
“No,” Dawson insisted, and the discussion ended.
At the end of the meeting, Renaud suggested Dawson ask for a meeting with Mayor Kerreen Conley to see what it would take to move talks forward with the city.
“If two heads are not in sync, there’s no reason to think it will go forward… Instead of it just dying or writing off the city, try again … I think the two of you should have that meeting,” Renaud said.
Michael Boelter said, “I’m on the building committee and I’m going to give a special invitation to the City of Belleville to meet with us … Quit stalling, get this going.”
He said he sees signs that say “Keep the Library in Belleville”.
In other business at the Sept. 11 meeting, the board:
• Approved hiring low bidder Alan C. Young & Associates, P.C. as auditor for the district library at $7,365. Other bidders were Doeren Mayhew at $8,000 and Rehmann at $7,400/$7,900;
• Discussed the evaluation pending for the library director, Deb Green, whose evaluation was done in August last year. The personnel committee meeting will meet to make arrangements. Green was absent from the meeting because she was on a walking tour of Spain, due back Sept. 15;
• Approved a circulation policy revision, which made provisions for schools of choice students in the Van Buren Schools that live elsewhere and allowed Teacher cards. Also, a limit has been made of five feature films on DVD at one time;
• Heard Dawson say there was no site selection update, but the board would be discussing that in the closed-door session at the end of the open meeting;
• Authorized the levy of 0.7 mills for Library Operation to be placed on the December 2012 tax bill in Belleville, Sumpter, and Van Buren;
• Learned the library has hired Security Operations Services of Ypsilanti on a trial basis to provide security for the library. They are scheduled for ten hours per week;
• Was advised more than $1,600 was raised at the “Bring Our Boys Home” dinner on Aug. 21 to earn money to purchase military and pension records for all those from the Belleville area who served in the Civil War. Ginger and Keith Bruder are in charge of the project and the collection will be archived at the library; and
• Heard board member John Juriga said he tripped on some carpeting in front of the circulation desk and so got bids from Douglas Carpet for carpet repairs in four area, which total under $1,000. He said he wants to wait until Green gets back before moving forward, “Since this is her house”.