Closing the books Plans for a central library may close other two
by : Christine Nardone Reporter staff writer
Feb 16, 2001 | 2419 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Plans to include a community library as part of the middle school proposed for the monastery site on 19th and West streets that were presented to the library's Board of Trustees at their Feb. 12 meeting left residents wondering what this facility will mean for the two libraries already existing in the city.

This new partnership between the Board of Education and the library will give the library more money to purchase new books and hold special events.

However, with the addition of a third library, the city may not be able to afford to keep the 43rd Street and 15th Street library facilities open.

While the new facility will give the community access to the schools' computer and science labs, art and lecture rooms, a story-telling area and an outdoor patio, many residents are still upset over the possibility of losing the two existing library buildings.

"When you weigh the advantages, the public can get so much more," said Superintendent of Schools Thomas Highton to the group of residents who attended the meeting on Monday. "Now the public can come in and have access to all of this technology."

The construction of the middle school and library will be almost completely paid for by state Abbott funds.

State money

Former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman enacted a new school facilities construction and financing program in July that allowed Union City and other Abbott (or "special needs") school districts to receive full funding for the construction of new schools.

The community library was not funded under this money, leaving the Board of Education $1.8 million short, but Highton said he's sure he'll get the money. Highton has already set up meetings with the city's Urban Enterprise Zone and the state's Economic Development Authority and Community Development Agency to get the additional funding.

"[This facility] will be constructed without a penny to the taxpayers," said Highton.

However the Library Board of Trustees made no decisions at last week's meeting.

"We have many options here," said Library Director William Breedlove. "There are a lot of issues to be considered."

Is just one enough?

All this talk of one centralized library has the residents and the library board wondering what will happen to the two existing libraries.

"It is the only beautiful building in Union City," said city resident Matthew Russas about the 15th Street library building. "It is the only building of landmark quality in the city."

The 15th Street library building was erected in 1904 with a $25,000 donation from Andrew Carnegie and has since kept the original stained-glass windows and dome and fa
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