News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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June 22, 2011

West Terre Haute library relocation still in early talking stages

Daycare center not closing now

TERRE HAUTE — There are no immediate plans to close the West Vigo Community Center’s daycare facility, despite tentative talks with Vigo County Public Library officials about purchasing the daycare building.

Community Center officials recently approached library leaders about the building, which is at 125 N. Church St. in West Terre Haute. However, talks have not gone beyond that level, Community Center officials emphasized Tuesday.

“It’s in the talking stages only,” said Jan Medley, interim director and board president of the Community Center. “We’re still open. It’s business as usual. We’re just discussing options.”

The daycare facility is about 5,500 square feet while the existing West Terre Haute library branch is just 1,100 square feet. No price for the building has yet been discussed, library officials said.

Some parents of children who use the Community Center’s daycare, known as the Learning Center, were caught off guard by a report in Tuesday’s Tribune-Star stating that the VCPL board had discussed on Monday night the possibility of moving the library’s West Terre Haute branch to the Learning Center building.

NIneteen children now use the daycare, Community Center officials said Tuesday.

If the Community Center does sell the daycare building, “parents will be given plenty of advance notice,” Medley said, adding that there are no plans to relocate the daycare if a sale occurs.

The Vigo County Public Library Board of Directors discussed the Community Center’s proposal during a board meeting Monday night in the VCPL’s main branch. This led to a wide-ranging discussion of the West Terre Haute branch in general, including suggestions that the branch might need to eventually be closed because of rising maintenance costs at the small building.

In 2009, library officials – in response to state property tax cuts – closed three of four VCPL  branches. Only the West Terre Haute branch was spared because it – unlike the others – was in a building already owned by the library, Dowell said.

A year ago, plans were in the works to build a new West Terre Haute branch on U.S. 40 on the east end of the town overlooking the Wabashiki Fish & Wildlife Area. The plan was to share the facility with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Those plans, however, fell through when it was learned that obtaining a $500,000 federal grant for the new building would be more difficult than at first imagined. Also, obtaining the grant would have made the job a “federal project,” meaning federal prevailing-wage laws would have applied, Dowell noted. As a result, the $500,000 grant would not have been nearly enough to cover the total cost of the proposed facility, she said. Private fundraising would have still been required.

Paul Elkins, a West Terre Haute resident who uses the branch at 626 W. National Ave. about once a week, said he hopes the library does find a new facility for the branch somewhere. Speaking outside the branch on Tuesday afternoon, Elkins said the current library is too small and has a parking area that is difficult to navigate.

“It would be great” if they moved to a larger facility, Elkins said.

Inside the library, patron Jacklyn Correll, 15, said she likes the current library branch.

“I come almost every day,” Correll said, working on her personal, small laptop computer. “There is a huge selection of books. The hours are awesome. It’s very clean.”

Jacklyn’s brother, Edward, 12, was also at the West Terre Haute library branch Tuesday. Edward, who was playing a game on a library computer, said he appreciates being able to walk to the library.

Many patrons of the West Terre Haute branch walk to the building, Dowell said. Many cannot make it to the main branch downtown, she noted.

The idea of purchasing the West Vigo Community Center’s daycare building is in the investigation stage at this point, Dowell said. However, it seems clear something must be done with the West Terre Haute branch. The building has housed the library branch since the early 1960s, is too small and fails to meet new building code standards, said Raina Konazeski, the library’s manager. The only meeting room is upstairs and can be reached only by climbing narrow stairs, she noted.

Yet support for the West Terre Haute branch runs deep.

“It’s very much a community library,” Konazeski said. “West Terre Haute is its own community. The commitment to this library is very strong.”

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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