Voters to decide $4.2M library bond

Peter White Public Library Director Andrea Ingmire, right, talks with Natasha Lantz during a recent educational event at the Ore Dock Brewing Company in Marquette. The event was held to give voters more information about the library’s $4.2 million capital improvements bond proposal that will appear on Tuesday’s primary election ballot. (Journal photo by Mary Wardell)

MARQUETTE — The Peter White Public Library will ask voters Tuesday whether to approve a $4.2 million bond for capital improvements, most significantly to repair a structural crack that runs from the original building’s foundation through the facade and roof.

The millage of about .48 mill for 15 years would also fund other building restoration and efficiency projects, building access improvements, technology, furnishings and reorganization of spaces for popular services.

The millage would replace the current library capital improvement bond, which funded a large portion of the 2000 building addition. That bond was for .55 mill and will be paid off in July.

While not a renewal, the proposed bond would begin immediately in 2018 after the current bond expires.

Library Director Andrea Ingmire said some of the structural needs are critical, especially the structural crack on the southeast corner of the building.

Ingmire noted while it’s technically a new millage renewal, “It’s actually a reduction in what people will see on their tax bill because the new millage is less than the one we currently have.”

She said the bond proposal is important right now because of timing for the repairs.

“The building repairs have been put off for a couple years now,” Ingmire said. “If we don’t get this bond, we’re going to have to fundraise for it, and fundraising for millions of dollars in the city of Marquette right now is really a challenge because there’s a lot of groups that are fundraising. So the immediacy of getting the work done is really important.”

Building restoration is estimated to cost more than $1 million; access and energy efficiency improvements are expected to be about $800,000; updated technology and furnishings are estimated at $800,000; as are space reorganization costs; and architectural fees and contingencies are expected to add up to about $600,000.

Architecture and engineering firm Integral Designs Inc. presented findings of their assessments of the building to the Marquette City Commission in March.

IDI detailed numerous structural, site, interior, mechanical, plumbing and electrical concerns in its report, as well as issues with heating, ventilation and air conditioning, including a chiller damaged by hail a number of years ago that needs replacing.

Feedback from library patrons has pointed to a need for improved climate control under atrium windows, better soundproofing for simultaneous programming, book checkout in the youth section and updated technology.

Bathrooms and water fountains are also a notable issue, Ingmire said.

At a recent educational event the library held at the Ore Dock Brewing Company, voters were invited to ask questions and learn more about the bond projects.

Natasha Lantz of West Branch Township said while only residents of the city of Marquette are voting on this millage, the library is an asset to the whole region.

“I think that our library is truly a community treasure and the library being what it is, it’s a place where everybody can go and access information, resources, and I think also feel comfortable,” Lantz said. “People don’t like to pay for infrastructure and buildings, but it’s absolutely necessary in order to carry on the programming that goes on inside.”

The Marquette City Commission expressed unilateral support for the library bond in March, with some commissioners again encouraging people to vote at a recent commission meeting.

Commissioner Mike Conley said Monday the bond will allow the library to update to the 21st century while costing taxpayers less than they pay now.

“The library is asking for less than a full renewal of the bond that we provided to build the addition to the Peter White library almost 20 years ago,” Conley said. “And libraries across the country have changed. We used to check out books, now we check out digital material.”

Commissioner Sara Cambensy said with 800-900 people walking through the library on average per day, it is an important center of the community.

“I think the biggest thing I want residents to think about is we have a huge structural crack that not only runs in the foundation, but it runs all the way up the original building of our library, and it’s going to be over a million dollars … to fix, and that’s the main reason that they’re coming out for this millage,” Cambensy said.

Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is mwardell@miningjournal.net.