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The Rundown – City takes ‘baby step’ forward on library

Post Date:06/11/2020 4:14 PM

The Rundown is prepared by the City of Newton Public Information Office to summarize the City Commission meeting and does not represent official Commission minutes.

7 p.m. June 9, 2020, Newton City Commission meeting

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the City Commission took another step forward on the library project, approving a formal funding agreement between the City and the library.

In the agreement, the City and library state a good-faith intention to proceed with the construction phase, with the City funding $4.5 million toward the project, and the library funding $1.3 million. The library funding would be provided through annual payments of $65,000 over a 20-year period to service the debt.

Based on an estimated total cost of $8.5 million for the new library, a gap of about $2.7 million remains. Before construction could be approved, this amount or more would need to be raised through private donations, or the scope of the project would need to be reduced.

The good-faith agreement is not a final commitment by the City Commission on construction, but it does allow the library to proceed with its fundraising campaign. The fundraising consultant, Swanson House, is about to begin a community feasibility study that will provide more details about potential community giving. The fundraising campaign is expected to last through August 2022, with design and construction to begin as early as December 2021.

Earlier this month, the architect presented the concept design for a new library in Military Park, featuring a one-story layout incorporating natural light, more flexible/efficient use of space, and drive-up services. The site plan includes on-site parking and re-orienting the building to make better use of the green space in the park. The new library would be built just to the east and south of the existing building, which would allow for the library to remain in operation during construction.

In other action, the City Commission:

  1. Approved a request from The Gathering Church to forgive a 2013 loan for $25,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and to release the City’s associated mortgage interest in the Fox Theatre building.
  2. Approved a special use permit for a digital pole sign to be placed at Newton High School.
  3. Conducted a public hearing for an application to the Kansas Department of Commerce for CDBG funds for CV Economic Development, and selected SCKEDD to provide grant administration services.
  4. Authorized the issuance of bonds to fund repaving projects on West First Street and South Kansas Avenue.
  5. Approved a request for snow fencing for the Junior Rodeo on June 13-14.
  6. Approved a request for snow fencing at Washington Park and extra handicapped parking signs for the Mexican-American Fast Pitch Tournament on July 3-5.
  7. Approved the release of a mortgage against property at 610 E. Second that was a recipient of CDBG funds through Hope Home Repair.

For more information, please contact Director of Communications Erin McDaniel at 284-6055 or