ISHPEMING - Recent visitors to the Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library may have noticed a bit of construction going on around the outside of the building - construction that will make the library more accessible to those who have had trouble navigating the steps up to the front door.
The library is currently going through the installation of the first phase of its handicap accessibility and building renovation project, with one handicap ramp leading to the main floor of the library and a second leading into the children's room downstairs. The ramps, being constructed by Premeau Construction, are expected to be completed by early October.
"This is a top priority. We've been out fundraising since last August," said Ray Leverton, who has been helping to coordinate fundraising for the two-phase project.
Crews from Premeau Construction are working to install two handicap ramps, one at the main floor of the Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library and one to the basement children’s room. The ramps, which are expected to make the library more accessible to those with mobility issues, are the start of a larger renovation project. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
Phase One of the project includes the two ramps, a small elevator and two new handicap accessible bathrooms, with a total estimated cost of $202,000. Construction on each of the elements is completed as enough money is raised.
After the elements of the first phase are completed, the library intends to move on to a second phase, which will see improved meeting spaces and a temperature-controlled document storage space in the lower level of the library building, at an estimated cost of $98,000.
"It will benefit everybody," said library Director John McNaughton, "especially when they see the bathrooms. This is just the tip of the iceberg."
McNaughton said accessibility issues have become a concern for library users.
"That's really what people want," he said. "There's a lot of seniors. We've had a lot of comments about that."
Thursday, representatives from Fox Negaunee's General Motors dealership dropped off a check for $3,500 to benefit the project, raised through a special program in the month of August that donated $50 of every car sold to the accessibility program. Fox Negaunee plans a second fundraiser through its Chrysler dealership in the coming months.
"The people purchasing the vehicles feel good about helping," said Fox Negaunee salesman Dave Magnuson. "It's such a well-known building in the area. People feel there should be handicap accessibility to a building like this."
The accessibility project was started by former library director Cindy Mack, who Leverton said was instrumental in getting the project going.
"This would never have happened without Cindy Mack," Leverton said.
The library keeps a weekly blog of the construction, complete with pictures and fundraising updates at icplcampaign.blogspot.com.
Those who wish to donate to the accessibility and renovation campaign can do so with checks payable to the City of Ishpeming Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library Special Funds delivered to the library at 317 N. Main St., Ishpeming, Mich. 49849.
For more information on the project, contact the library at 905-486-4381.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.