Only city council action remains for plans to move the Arlene Cherry Memorial Cabot Public Library to be put in motion. Approval to recommend the action to the Cabot City Council came during the Budget and Personnel Committee meeting held Monday.
The committee meeting was part of the joint meeting with the Public Works, and Police and Fire committees.
Purchase of the former Knight’s Grocery Store building at 909 West Main St. would be part of a nearly $2.4 million expansion of the Arlene Cherry Memorial Cabot Public Library.
Committee members Jon Moore, Kevin Davis, Angie Jones, Rick Prentice, Ann Gilliam and Ed Long attended the meeting; Mayor Bill Cypert addressed the committees on a number of issues.
Cypert reviewed the main points of the project to expand the Arlene Cherry Cabot Public Library.
Purchase price of the building, appraised at $1.32 million, is $905,000, Cypert said. The offer was made contingent on voter approval of the bond re-funding issue, set for election in April.
Should the issue fail, the city would lose the “small” down payment of $10,000, Cypert said.
Otherwise, $655,000 is due June 30, 2013, the remaining $240,000 would be financed over three years, Cypert said.
The Lonoke/Prairie Library System Board of Directors will control the project, Cypert said. The library system will pay for building and bond funding for the renovation project.
The city will own the building and will be under a long-term lease for the exclusive use of the library, Cypert said. “For 99 years or whatever we negotiate … the city will maintain the building.”
The current library, at 8,196 square feet, is at capacity, which is limiting the library functions, Cypert said.
Moving to the former grocery store will provide nearly 26,000 square feet, and will cost about $2.4 million. That cost does not include the equipment and other furnishings, estimated at about $600,000, Cypert said.
Moving to the former store would cost about $2,6 million for a “turnkey” project, which would include interior renovations, parking lot renovation and a park area on the west side of the building.
The interior of the building is to be fully renovated, Cypert said. “The architect tells us … that the basic structure is very sound,” Cypert said.
Putting the library in this location would provide easier access and make the library more noticeable on what is considered the “Gateway to the City,” Cypert said.
That the expansion very important to the community because in the past five years all measures of usage at the library have nearly doubled, Cypert said.
The number of books and materials circulated by the library has increased more than 70 percent; computer usage is up more than 90 percent, and visits to the library and the summer reading program have more than doubled, Cypert said.
For tax purposes, the Knight’s company wishes to close on the purchase before the end of the year, Cypert said.
There is also the possibility of more space coming available at the site, Cypert said. This could be expanded into education facilities in partnership with other higher education institutions such as ASU-Beebe, he said.
In other matters, the committee also voted to recommend the appointment of John W. White to the Parks and Recreation Commission. White, perhaps better known as Johnny White, is the former Cabot School District athletic director; he would fill the vacancy made by the resignation of Stephen Tipton.
In his resume, White listed holding the positions of school district athletic director, from 1986 to 2010, and transportation director from 2008 to 2008.
White also listed having been director of the city parks and recreation program, golf coach, baseball coach and cross-country coach.
White also listed being director of 20 state golf tournaments, 10 state volleyball tournaments, 10 Meet of Champs, 10 state volleyball tournaments, two state baseball tournaments, and a state baseball tournament.
Under experience, White listed being responsible for contracting the development of the high school football stadium and the baseball-softball complex and the tennis complex.