By Rosemary K. Otzman
The Belleville Area District Library Board will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 2, at a place yet to be determined, to get public input on selection of a site for a new library building.
At its regular meeting Aug. 13, the board voted unanimously to set a meeting to discuss specific sites with the public, although no sites were named.
The vote came after a one-hour-and-25-minute closed-door session, the 25th such private meeting on property acquisition since the library board was formed. The subject of these closed sessions is always the same: “to consider the purchase and/or lease of real property by the Belleville Area District Library Board.”
At the Aug. 13 closed-door meeting, the board invited its attorney, John Day and its architect Dan Whisler. While three members of the audience waited outside the closed door, they could hear peals of laughter repeatedly coming from the private meeting.
After opening the door and going back into regular session, the board voted to discuss specific sites on Oct. 2 and announce those sites at the regular library board meeting at 7 p.m., Sept. 10.
“We will say sites A, B and C,” said board member Christina Brasil.
Barbara Miller asked from the audience if they will also announce the cost of development of the different sites and attorney Day replied, “There’s no way we can do complete costs.”
Miller said she’s an attorney and likes the words “estimated costs.”
Brasil said the board will tell the costs for site acquisition at its October meeting.
The decision to set a public presentation of properties to be considered as the site for a new building came after architect Whisler gave a report on the soil borings at the DNR site north of the bridge.
When the Independent mentioned that the DNR site was the board’s favorite, Day denied that and Brasil noted while the discussion concerning DNR property had been public, the board has been doing work behind the scenes on other sites.
After the board decides on a site for a new library building, it will have to go to the voters for a bond approval before any building could begin. The vote is expected to be in November 2014.
At the 7 p.m. Aug. 13 meeting, Whisler said he had received a copy of the report from SME, Inc. of Plymouth on the soil borings at 5 p.m. that day and read it immediately.
He said the borings show the DNR site is a very workable, clay site with a lot of load-bearing capacity. The library proposed for that site may be two or three stories.
He said there was no fill found where the six borings were taken. He said while the individual borings were both deep and shallow, the results were fairly consistent.
He said in the boring closest to the lake, groundwater was found 10 feet below the surface of the lake. Water doesn’t move easily through clay and, “You wouldn’t have much of a lake, if it did,” he said.
Whisler said the only negative is that clay soil is not permeable, so there could be no underground storm water detention.
“We will have to be creative with elevations to drain it,” he said of the site.
Proposed depths for the building would be 30 feet at the corners of the building and 15 feet for the parking lot. He said for the top 18 to 24” the builders should use onsite soil for excavations.
He said ideally construction should be in the summer months, since once it gets wet the clay will have to be dried out to proceed and, “We’re fighting the weather.”
He said the borings were done the week of July 29 and only the basic borings were needed at the minimum charge of $2,900 that was approved.
The report gave a general description of the DNR property, noting, “…we understand that docks and piers for boats and fishing may be constructed along the lake.”
In other business at the Aug. 13 meeting, the library board:
• Heard it explained that although the minutes of the July 13 meeting say that marketing consultant Susan Kennedy would do a general survey which would be made available in the library and online, that has been changed. Instead, now she is asking library patrons to give three words describing what they want their library to be;
• Heard Library Director Deb Green say she wants to raise the pay scale for clerks in the future, but she would wait until after the audit to request that;
• Heard board member John Juriga say he is seeking bids on repairs to the fascia at the front of the present library since it has lead paint on it. Instead of scraping and painting, he wants to cover it with aluminum siding;
• Heard Green announce that the seven-week summer reading program was a success with more than 500 youth registered and, “The library was hopping.” She also reported that the fines from the court came in at $30,000 this year, $300 less than last year;
• Heard Treasurer Elaine Gutierrez report that the Garden Walk event to benefit the library had the highest ticket sales and attendance ever, with 282 tickets sold and more than 300 participating in the activities when you include the volunteers and vendors; and
• Heard Juriga report that he is hosting this year’s yard sale to benefit the museum and historical society at his home Sept. 5-8. He said the work crew of the 34th District Court will help them set up the sale. He said it takes that crew just one hour to set it up, while it would take the Historical Society members seven hours. He joked that all the members of the court work crew were his ex-students. Juriga is a retired Romulus school teacher.
By Rosemary K. Otzman