TROY — The city of Troy’s board of park commissioners reviewed a request to vacate Brukner Park at the request of the Troy-Miami County Public Library to explore a future expansion project on Tuesday.
David Lindeman represented the library’s board of directors at the meeting. Lindeman reported that the library board has been exploring its options to expand its current building. Lindeman said the library board wanted to request the city to vacate Brukner Park as one of its possible expansion project options so the board could begin its first steps in the design and planning phase.
Alan Kappers, president of the board of park commissioners, said the library should first prepare a letter of intent for use of Brukner Park. Kappers also requested that the city law director research the city’s role to transfer the park land to the library. Kappers said the agreement would likely have contingencies such as if the land was to be vacated in the future, it would return to the city. Kappers said he spoke with Park Superintendent Jeremy Drake, who reported to him that Brukner Park is used mainly by library patrons and is not a heavily used city park otherwise.
Kappers also said he’d like to see plans and designs before moving forward with the project. “I just want to be assured it would be an attractive building because right now, Brukner Park is an attractive park,” he said.
Lindeman said, “I think we’d be happy to work with you in that way. Basically, we are all on the same side. What we are looking for is something really great for downtown Troy, and from our side, for all the people who use the library from Troy and from all of our services areas, so we all really want the same thing here.”
Park board member Susan Westfall said she’d like to see the library stay in its current location. Park board member Jordan Emerick asked if the Troy Rotary Club would be involved in any discussions. City Clerk Sue Knight noted that the Rotary recently paid for the park’s gazebo maintenance, and she asked the library to reach out to the Troy Rotary about its tentative plan to expand using park land. Kappers said he’d like to see the library maintain the park’s memorials, funded by the Rotary, to which Lindeman agreed. Lindeman recognized that Troy Rotary has done a lot of work to Brukner Park with plaques and the gazebo and agreed to incorporate the memorials into the design process in some fashion.
Prior to the discussion, Lindeman said the board has been discussing how to bring the library “into the 21st century” and how the library’s needs have changed since it opened its doors in 1976 at the former site of the Edwards School.
“We simply need to now expand. We need a bigger space formatted differently for the different things we do,” Lindeman said.
He said the request for the land to expand the library has “some urgency” since the current building has “a major heating and cooling problem that will require not repairs, but total renovation — very expensive — and before we spend that money we want to figure out where we want to go in the near and long-term future in the next 50-60 years.” Lindeman said the HVAC system is near the end of its life and would require a total renovation throughout the building.
Lindeman said the board has discussed various options including moving to another location or building a new library, either at its current site or another site, but found new building costs estimates were high. Lindeman said the board felt it was important to stay in the downtown area.
“We really think the location is important. It’s been an educational center in this town since almost the beginning. It’s very convenient for the people who use the library and it brings a lot of people to downtown Troy,” he said. “The problem is, in our many investigations, the only efficient and really reasonable way to expand our space there is to do it behind the library.”
Lindeman said the space would likely need a large meeting area, small meeting rooms, tutoring spaces, and office space to handle its expanded programs.
Lindeman said the library’s board has discussed expanding up to add a second story, but architects and engineers reported that it would not be feasible. Lindeman also said the library considered moving from its location, but wants to stay in its current location.
Lindeman said the board did not have designs yet, but noted that the library’s addition, if feasible, would use the Brukner Park land as part of the new building space, library patron parking or a combination of the two.
The Troy-Miami County Library is funded by the state and is supported by a local levy.