Lebanon Public Library Expansion

Watchdog Indiana Home Page Watchdog Lebanon Home Page Lebanon's FAILED "Vision"

At 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 15, the Lebanon Plan Commission will consider a use variance request from the Lebanon Public Library Board for 305 and 307 East North Street. The Library Board wants to tear down the homes on these lots and put in a large parking lot. All Lebanon citizens are encouraged to attend this meeting to let their opinion be known.

Watchdog Lebanon opposes a use variance for 305 and 307 East North Street that would allow the Lebanon Public Library Board to build the large parking lot in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

 Lebanon's Comprehensive Plan calls for 305 and 307 East North Street to have a "residential land use." Residential land use is defined as "land that is primarily used for the construction of various types of buildings used for dwellings and churches. This designation does not differentiate between single family and multi-family dwellings." A large parking lot not associated with an adjacent dwelling or church cannot be considered a residential land use.

The parcels at 305 and 307 East North Street are currently zoned multi-family 1, which is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. A large parking lot not associated with a single family or multi-family dwelling is not consistent with the multi-family 1 zoning.

The requested use variance for a large parking lot might be acceptable if the parking lot met the common sense requirement of at least being near the library expansion proposed by the Library Board. However, library patrons would not even be able to see the large parking lot from the library's main entrance. They would have to walk almost two blocks to get to the out-of-sight parking lot.

The requested use variance for a large parking lot might be satisfactory if the proposed library expansion is a worthwhile project. It is not a worthwhile project because it is over-built and extravagant.

The Library Board has done a pretty good job of using accepted standards to project some of our library needs for the next 20 years. Their square footage computations appear to be on target for the collection space, reader seating space, and staff work space. However, the provisions made for special use space and a program room are unneeded frills whose removal would eliminate an entire story from the proposed three-story expansion. Eliminating one story would reduce the size of the expansion about 9,665 square fee. The number of required new parking spaces would be reduced from 49 to 30.

Eliminating extravagances such as a portico and a grand staircase could make the footprint of a two-story library addition narrow enough to provide 15 angled parking spaces on Washington Street. These 15 angled parking spaces together with the already-planned 15 spaces would be enough for a prudent two-story expansion.

In conclusion, the Lebanon Public Library Board should not be granted a use variance to put a large parking lot at 305 and 307 East North Street. The large parking lot is not consistent with the residential multi-family 1 zoning classification called for by the Comprehensive Plan. If the Library Board acts responsibly, enough parking spaces can be provided on-site for a two-story library addition that is not over-built and extravagant.

If you have an opinion regarding the proposed Library Expansion, you need to contact the following Library Board members to express your opinion: Jane Myers (myers@in-motion.net), Huck Lewis (huck_l@hotmail.com), Linda Jones, Dave Koehler, Ruth Lucas, Marsha Truitt (dtruitt@in-motion.net), and Sharon Wood (woodse@in-motion.net).

On February 26, 2003, the Lebanon Library Board voted 6 to 1 to renovate the existing Library and construct a 3-story, 29,000 square foot addition. The project is supposed to cost no more than $8 million.

The NO vote was cast by Linda Jones. The Lebanon Reporter wrote on February 27 that "Linda Jones cast the lone dissenting vote, saying she is representing the view of the 13 people who contacted her saying the $8 million price tag is too high."

We all should thank Linda for being a champion of fiscal responsibility! ON PAPER, Linda has already saved us $366,000. The 3-story addition and renovation was estimated to cost $8.366 million, but a ceiling of $8 million has been put on the project.

There will be more opportunities in the coming months for Linda to exert her quiet leadership as important decisions are made that will affect the final cost of the Library addition and renovation. Three of the other six Board Members appear willing to follow Linda's lead and further limit the cost of the project. The Board will develop a list of Library NEEDS versus WANTS, and it is hoped that Linda's leadership will focus the Board on real needs as opposed to marble-floored wants.

The extravagant extent of the Library project is emphasized when one compares the value of the present Library building to the cost of the renovation and addition project.

The replacement value of the present Library building is $2,072,396, or $113 per square foot. An $8 million project to renovate the present Library (18,360 square feet) and build the 3-story addition (29,000 square feet) would cost $169 per square foot. Holding the project cost to $113 per square foot would save $2,648,320.

A February 20, 2003, Lebanon Reporter article states "the library tax rate will rise, potentially adding 10 or 15 cents to the current 10-cent rate," to pay for a proposed Lebanon Library Expansion. This library tax rate increase doesn't make sense.

Analysis of the previously identified Library Expansion Option 1 illustrates the tax rate confusion. Option 1 called for a 2-story addition that would add 27,400 square feet to the existing 18,360 square-foot Library at a cost of $8.22 million. According to H. J. Umbaugh & Associates, the owner of a Lebanon home with a tax value of $65,000 would pay $44 more in annual library tax for a bond issue to build Option 1. It would take a library tax rate increase of 6.77 cents to provide this extra $44 of annual library tax.

Why does the Lebanon Library Board want a library tax rate increase of 10 or 15 cents instead of the 6.77 cents that would have been build the Option 1 Expansion? The answer is that some members of the Library Board want to immediately put in place an Expansion that will meet the needs of the Library 20 years in the future. In other words, they want to not only expand the Library facilities, but also immediately hire three more employees and increase the number of books and audio-visual materials available.

The truth of the matter is that there is no current burgeoning of patron demand on the Lebanon Library. From 1999 to 2001, the number of items borrowed by Library patrons decreased steadily from 147,993 to 144,494 to 142,617. This does not mean that any if-you-build-it-they-will-come nonsense should be tolerated. What it does mean is that Center Township citizens are too busy trying to make a living to enjoy the Library as much as they would like. This "silent desperation" needs to be taken into account when Library Expansion decisions are made.

The bond issue for the Library Expansion should not exceed $5 million. The capital projects portion of the library tax rate should increase 4.25 cents. The library portion of the library tax rate should increase 0.75 cents. This 5 cents total library tax rate increase would cost the owner of a Lebanon home with a tax value of $65,000 an extra $32.50 a year. A library tax rate increase more than this would create an unneeded hardship for homeowners.

Watchdog Indiana Home Page Watchdog Lebanon Home Page Lebanon's FAILED "Vision"

This page was last updated on 07/03/13 .