(La Porte, IN) - Construction projects have been going on all around the main branch of the La Porte County Public Library.
A parking lot west of the main branch opened in the spring. Three other projects are currently underway. One is the new storage garage at the corner of Harrison and Madison. The new building has been designed to look more like a house than a garage in order to maintain a neighborhood feel. A large front porch and lawn area will host future library programs.
At the corner of Harrison and Indiana a reading garden is being constructed. The small park will provide patrons outdoor space with landscaping and seating areas. The concrete walkways were poured last week.
Finally, the 100-year-old main steps at the library’s east entrance are currently being replaced. The steps will be clad in limestone over a sturdier concrete base. The library plans to repurpose the thick slabs of Indiana limestone from the old steps in the new reading garden.
Library Director Fonda Owens says the projects are part of a long-term library improvement plan. And they’ve been paid for with existing tax funds. Owens explained that in 2015 the library bonded $12 million to remodel the main branch and improve or replace the other branches. Changes in that plan—unexpectedly needing to replace the Fish Lake branch building, for example— prevented these current projects from getting done. In the meantime, additional tax money has come in from the county’s reconciliation of tax problems from years ago. “There was a year in which we got almost two full years of property tax in one calendar year,” according to Owens.
After budgeting through tough times, Owens said, the recouped tax money is now being put to use. “We toughed it out, we tightened the belt, so to speak,” she said. “Now all this work that we’re doing is being paid for with that money. So we’re not bonding, we’re not borrowing. We’re using money that the library already had to make improvements that needed to be made.”
The total of the current projects is a little over $1.5 million. Owens said the work should wrap up early in the fall.