West Chester could expand library location for more community gatherings

The MidPointe Library West Chester branch opened in 2009. West Chester Twp. trustees are considering building an addition on the library.

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The MidPointe Library West Chester branch opened in 2009. West Chester Twp. trustees are considering building an addition on the library.

The West Chester Twp. trustees will test the waters on a proposed MidPointe Library expansion to provide gathering space for community groups and help the library handle growing numbers of patrons.

The trustees are holding a work session Tuesday to discuss possibly funding expansion of the MidPointe Library, but at this point no dollar estimates are available. Trustee Ann Becker said officials want to get a feel for whether the community would support the expense.

“The next step would be looking at architecture, how much space we need and getting a ballpark figure,” Becker said. “So my hope is that after the work session is over we go to an architect and look for a good/better/best model and we’ll see how much things cost and present them to the community.”

Becker said the library is hoping to expand its services because they have seen a large influx of both young patrons populating the space and township seniors need a space to gather since they were displaced from the Activity Center when Kroger wanted to buy the land to build a marketplace.

The library has its own tax levy but the township built the library using tax increment financing funds in 2009. The cost was $2.1 million for the land and $12 million for construction. Barb Wilson, director of public information and engagement, said there was much debate on moving the library from Cox Road to the new location on Union Centre and a group of residents tried and failed to take it to a ballot vote.

Becker says she doesn’t believe they would need a referendum to spend the money, that an addition would merely be an extension of the agreement they have with the library to operate the township-owned library. She said the library could use its own money for the addition and “it could go both ways” but for now it is being considered a township expense.

MidPointe Executive Director Travis Bautz was not available for comment.

Trustee Mark Welch said he believes the voters should approve the potential expenditure, one he estimates could be in the millions of dollars. When the seniors were “dislodged” from the Activity Center he investigated renovating the basement of the Muhlhauser Barn and that cost was around $800,000, to improve an existing structure.

“It is no stretch that a library addition would be millions of dollars,” Welch said. “Something that is that big, put it on the ballot.”

Welch said the idea of a community center was floated many years ago and residents didn’t want it.

“I have questions, I’m going to push back on this thing hard,” Welch said. “Because I don’t think it’s necessarily the job of the township to be satisfying the needs of special interests.”

Wilson said in 2004 the township planned to build a community center that would have rivaled the one in Mason with indoor and outdoor pools, gymnasium, physical fitness equipment and classes, an art center, senior center and community spaces.

A group of residents put an issue on the ballot to stop the township and were successful in May 2005.

The work session will be held from 4-5 p.m. at the township hall, 9113 Cincinnati Dayton Road.

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