City awaits word on library funding

When the project to expand Vermillion Community Library was discussed last year, City Manager John Prescott said partial funding would be sought in the form of a $200,000 grant and a $300,000 loan.

No plans have been finalized yet for proposed improvements to the Vermillion City Library. Architects working with the city envision this possibility once funding is in place to allow the project to begin.

(Graphic courtesy city of Vermillion)

While the city was awarded the $200,000 in the form of a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) this past December, the same can not be said regarding the $300,000 which would come as a grant/loan through the United States Department of Agricultures Community Facilities Program.

Weve heard nothing about it at this point in time, Prescott said.

That means the project on which construction was hoped to commence this spring will have to wait until additional funds can be located, or modified to make up for the difference in budget.

Private dollars have always been a part of the project, Prescott said.

We were trying to put together some grant/loan dollars from the state, USDA, CDBG, that part of it. Then we have some city money thats part of it, he said. But we anticipated having some private dollars to help us also.

The city has pledged approximately $1.4 million to the project, which along with the $200,000 grant puts the funding at about $1.6 million.

I think its a little over a $2 million project, Prescott said. Were still trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Not receiving the $300,000 grant/loan from the USDA just puts us that much farther back in terms of trying to move it forward with the dollars being raised.

Prescott said no action is being taken on the $300,000 grant by the USDA because they are under a continuing resolution.

But what we were learning is that the dollar figures they had available with respect to the grant side of it may not be as large as what we had initially anticipated. That was due to some of the prior cutbacks, restrictions on that program, he said.

Vermillion Mayor John Jack Powell said that when the city initially set aside the $1.4 million toward the project, building consultants came back with an estimate almost three times that, which caused two main problems.

One, can we do something within the constraints of the citys budget, which has that amount set aside, Powell said. Second is what are the options as far as trying to get other resources through grants, fundraisers and things of that nature.

Now the project is $300,000 less than anticipated and more planning must be done before the expansion can commence.

Right now we are not in the position to move it forward, Prescott said. We have, if you will, the conceptual diagrams of the project, but we dont have bid documents that we can go out for bid on yet because we were trying to determine what sort of funding was going to be coming in to make this project happen.

Once we have a better handle as to where that financial picture (stands), then we go ahead and have the bid documents drawn up and placed out for bid. Were not in a position to do that, as we dont have enough money allocated for the project yet, he said.

The 11,000-square-foot library building was designed in 1965. When the facility was built about 13 years later, the city council cut the size of it by nearly one-third to offset higher prioritized costs for the city. In the late 1990s, the library had a major renovation.

The proposal for expansion allowed for a bigger multi-purpose room, as well as an added 800 feet to the childrens section.

A second floor was eliminated from the design to make the project more cost-effective.

In 2009, the library had 32,270 visitors. Powell said he hopes the project can be completed, and that the facility will continue to serve those visitors and many others.

It is very important to have a viable library that is accessible to our community and our county and some of the surrounding areas, Powell said.

David Lias contributed to this report.

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