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Library may scale back plans

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Photo By Mike Malloy/AmesNewsOnline

By Mike Malloy

(May 26, 2010 - 5 p.m.) The Ames Public Library project is still moving forward, albeit in a different direction.

Library Director Art Weeks said Tuesday that the library project, in process for more than a year, will be scaled back.

“Everybody is saying that you’re $30-35 million is too much to achieve, and quite frankly we’re in agreement with that. It was a lofty goal,” Weeks said.

Weeks said he remains committed to the current site, at 515 Douglas Ave., and allowing the Ames Historical Society to move in.

The Ames Public Library Board of Trustees had originally chosen to build a new library on land to the east of city hall now being used as a parking lot. They made the switch to the Douglas Avenue site after city council members indicated it would prefer the Douglas Avenue location.

Weeks said the decision to downsize the plans came on the heels of a fundraising study from the Hodge Group. Based on conversations with forty-seven individuals and businesses, ranging from donors willing to give tens of thousands of dollars to those able to give 10 dollars, the Hodge Group estimates that that $3-4 million in donations could be raised.

“It’s good but it is not great.” Said Russ Hodge of the Hodge Group. “It’s about what I expected.”

Hodge added that he would conduct a survey in September to test the public’s response toward a bond issue to pay for the new facility.

The library board discussed the study at its May 20 board meeting.

Richard Seagrave, president of the library board, said the board did not vote Thursday to downsize, but has discussed downsizing the vision informally.

"We're trying to go a little slower this time. We started out with a discussion of 'where' and if we had it to do over again we would have started with a discussion of 'why'."

"We haven't made a definitive decision because we're waiting to see what the architect tells is going to be feasible."

The architect, Jeff Scherer, was not available for comment.

Seagrave said the new library still could be a 94,000-square foot building, but it would have to be built in two stages.

Weeks said he wasn’t disappointed in the result of the study, adding that public financing and grants will also be part of the funding equation. Weeks would not comment on what the new library would look like.

“I would rather get more information before I stake myself out on what we’re going to do,” Weeks said. “I saw this the whole time as a process. I think the dialogue we’re having with the people of the city is coming together.” 

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