Stories indexed with the term ‘downtown library building’

Forums Set on Downtown Library’s Future

The Ann Arbor District Library board has scheduled three public forums in June to seek input on the future of the downtown Ann Arbor District Library – including the possibility of putting a millage on the ballot in November 2012 to fund a project. According to a press release issued by AADL on Tuesday, the forums are also intended for library staff to present information about “the challenge and opportunities presented by the Downtown Library.” Tours of the current building at 343 S. Fifth Ave. will also be provided.

The forums are set for Saturday, June 9 from 10 a.m.-noon; Tuesday, June 12 from 7-9 p.m.; and Wednesday, June 20 from 7-9 p.m. All forums will be held in the downtown library’s … [Full Story]

Survey Helps Downtown Library Planning

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (April 16, 2012): As previously reported by The Chronicle, a new survey commissioned by the Ann Arbor District Library indicates voter support for a tax increase to pay for major renovations or reconstruction of the downtown building at 343 S. Fifth Ave.

Downtown Ann Arbor library building at 343 S. Fifth Ave.

View of the downtown Ann Arbor library building at 343 S. Fifth Ave., from the corner of Fifth and William. The orange cones are tied to construction of what's tentatively called the Library Lane parking structure, being built by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. Library staff and board members are again discussing whether to renovate or rebuild this main library location. (Photos by the writer.)

At the board’s April meeting on Monday, AADL director Josie Parker summarized results of the phone survey, which was conducted in early March by the Lansing firm EPIC-MRA. It included 400 responses. She noted that the library’s five-year strategic plan, approved by the board in 2010, includes an initiative related to the downtown building.

The survey indicated that if a vote were taken today – on funding a $65 million renovation or new construction project with a property tax increase of 0.69 mills – 45% of survey respondents would vote yes, and another 15% would lean toward a yes vote. That compares with a total of 37% who said they would either vote no or lean toward no.

Support was even stronger among survey respondents for scaled-back options with lower tax increases. [.pdf of survey results]

“This is a beginning, but it’s a very positive beginning after a long four years,” Parker said, referring to the board’s decision in 2008 to halt redevelopment of the downtown building because of faltering economic conditions.

Later in the meeting, the board voted unanimously to appoint a three-member special facilities committee, charged with making recommendations to the full board.

The April 16 meeting also included a presentation of the draft 2012-2013 budget, for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012. The budget is based on levying 1.55 mills – unchanged from the current levy, but below the 1.92 mills that the district is authorized to collect.

The budget anticipates tax revenues of $11.203 million for fiscal 2012-13, representing a 1% increase in tax revenues compared to the current projection of $11.091 million for fiscal 2011-12. The overall FY 2012-13 budget revenues – including tax revenue, state aid and other revenue sources – is $12.254 million, compared to the current budget of $12.191 million.

The board is expected to vote on the budget at its May 21 meeting. That meeting is also expected to include a public hearing on the budget, as well as a formal director’s evaluation and renewal of a space use agreement with the Friends of the AADL, which operates a used bookstore in the downtown library’s lower level. [Full Story]

Survey: Support for New Downtown Library

The Ann Arbor District Library board is continuing its consideration of a possible new or renovated downtown building. At its April 16, 2012 meeting, the group received a report of recent survey results that gauged support for a millage to fund such a project.

The survey showed that if a vote were taken now – on funding a $65 million renovation or new construction project with a property tax increase of 0.69 mills – 45% of survey respondents would vote yes, and another 15% would lean toward a yes vote. That compares with a total 37% who said they would either vote no or lean toward no. [.pdf of survey results]

The survey also asked about support if the project were scaled … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Library Weighs In On Lawsuit

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (Dec. 20, 2010): The AADL board spent much of their December meeting focused on a statewide issue with local implications: New rules issued by the Library of Michigan are being challenged in court. The board ultimately voted to file an amicus curiae – or “friend of the court” – brief in support of the Herrick District Library in Holland, which filed suit against the state library. At stake are broader issues of local control, which officials at local public libraries believe would be eroded if the new rules are allowed. The new rules change how libraries qualify for state aid.

The board also got brief updates on plans to deal with the downtown library building and with the parking deal being negotiated between the city of Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.

Monday’s meeting wrapped up with a farewell to Carola Stearns, the outgoing board member whose term concludes at the end of the year. [Full Story]

Library Board: Invest in Current Building?

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (Sept. 20, 2010): A request to replace an aging chiller – the piece of equipment that acts as an air-conditioner for the downtown library – led to a broader discussion among library board members on Monday night about how much they should invest in a building that not long ago they planned to demolish.

Ann Arbor District Library building at Fifth & William

The Ann Arbor District Library building, on the northeast corner of Fifth & William. (Photos by the writer.)

They ultimately approved replacing the chiller for $108,555 – but also agreed to plan a retreat where they’ll discuss the issue of the downtown building in depth. The retreat will be scheduled sometime after the Nov. 2 election, when seven candidates will vie for four seats. In addition to the four incumbents running – Jan Barney Newman, Barbara Murphy, Carola Stearns and Ed Surovell – two other candidates attended Monday’s meeting in the audience: Vivienne Armentrout and Lyn Powrie Davidge. Nancy Kaplan is also running for a board seat.

The board heard a report that employee benefits are over budget, primarily due to increased health insurance costs. The administration has addressed that issue by changing the insurance options for its non-union employees, a move that’s expected to bring the expense back to its budgeted amount by the end of the fiscal year.

Also during Monday’s meeting, the board and staff heard a presentation by Stearns, a geologist, who described the effects of glaciers on this region’s topography, in part by looking at the layers of earth exposed during excavation for the underground parking garage being built adjacent to the downtown library building. [Full Story]

Zingerman’s Project Seeks Brownfield Status

The major renovation and expansion in the works for Zingerman’s Deli cleared its most recent major hurdle in May, gaining site plan approval from the Ann Arbor planning commission. While the site plan now moves on to city council, the business is taking action on another front as well: Applying for support from the local and state brownfield program.

Grace Singleton

Grace Singleton, a managing partner with Zingerman's Deli, talks about plans to apply to the local and state brownfield program as part of the deli's renovation plans. The business hosted a public meeting about the plans on June 21. (Photos by the writer.)

On June 21, Zingerman’s hosted a public meeting to answer questions about their plans for the brownfield application. Matt Naud, the city’s environmental coordinator, was on hand as well, and distinguished between this project and those that are typically associated with the term “brownfield.” In the case of Zingerman’s Deli, “it’s economic development,” he said, “It’s not about environmental cleanup.”

Specifically, brownfield status would allow Zingerman’s to be eligible for tax increment financing (TIF), a mechanism that would let the business recoup certain qualified expenses related to the project – possibly as much as $817,000 over 15 years.

It’s a different approach than the brownfield application most recently approved by city council for the Near North affordable housing project on North Main. In that case, the site’s need for environmental cleanup qualifies it for a brownfield status. Zingerman’s application also differs from Near North’s in that Near North isn’t seeking reimbursement through TIF. Both projects plan to apply for Michigan Business Tax credits. [Full Story]

Board Renews Library Building Discussion

The Ann Arbor District Library board is reconsidering plans to rebuild its downtown building – a move they had tabled in late 2008 because of economic conditions.

At a Feb. 18 working session to discuss AADL’s strategic plan, board member Ed Surovell pushed the board to act. “We are not in charge of our budget or our reserves or our fate because the building is falling apart,” he said. “On any given day of the week, it could be closed for an extended period of time because something deadly goes wrong with it.”

If they move ahead, the project would likely include asking voters to approve a millage that would fund construction.

Concerns over the library’s main building, located at Fifth and William, were part of a wide-ranging discussion as the board and key staff members worked through the draft of a strategic plan for July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2015. Other topics included phasing out the Dewey Decimal System as the primary way to classify materials, marketing to those who don’t use the library, and adapting products and services to reflect changing technology. [Full Story]

Library Board To Hold Special Meeting

The Ann Arbor District Library board has called a special meeting for Monday morning, Nov. 24, to discuss the downtown building project. The meeting will be held in the conference room of the downtown library, 343 S. Fifth Ave.

The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. with a closed executive session. It will reconvene in a meeting open to the public at 10:15 a.m. If anyone wants to come at 9:30 a.m. – though they won’t be allowed to enter the meeting – they’ll need to use the back entrance to the building. The main entrance opens at 10 a.m.

No further details are available about the meeting’s agenda. Earlier this year, the board hired Luckenbach Ziegelman Architects to work on designing a … [Full Story]