Several guests were in attendance on Feb. 4 as Corydon City Council held a public meeting to discuss plans to sell the LeCompte Memorial Library at 110 South Franklin St. During their previous meeting, the council noted their intent to sell the building.
“Could you tell us a little bit more on why you are intending to do that and what the plan is,” asked guest Donna Donald.
“Well our plan was to sell it and then lease it back to pay rent with the money we get from taxes,” began Corydon Mayor Dennis Moorman. “We got the side fixed and we was going to have a 10-year lease or something like that on the bottom part and then they want the top part. We thought if we could sell it and put it back on the tax roll then we would be getting taxes off the building.”
“The intent is to always have a library in town,” said council member Eric Jaeckel. “There will never not be a library.”
“Do you have any ideas on who would want to buy it?” asked meeting guest John Ambelang. “Do you have anyone interested or anyone that wants to buy it?”
“No we will put it up for bid,” Jaeckel answered.
“No this is the first night of it for the public,” Moorman added.
“So you don’t know how much the lease will be?” asked guest Don Seams.
“It will be the tax levy which I think is $9,000 or some a year,” said Moorman.
“What if they want more?” Seams asked.
“We will have it locked down for so many years and if they don’t meet our requirements we put in the paper then we won’t be able to sell it,” Moorman said. “There would be a written agreement before we sell it for whatever we decide whether it be for five or 10 years, but by state law we have to maintain a library in the city.”
“The thing is we feel if there is other ownership to the building we feel a private owner would have better resources to make the building a better place so that is part of our intent,” Jaeckel added.
“So right now you can’t guarantee if the agreement would be as you said five years or 10 years, so is it guaranteed the library would be here 10 years?” asked guest Heidi Bellon.
“What we want to do is lock it in for the library board so that you can look 10 years into the future and have an opportunity to say what if,” Jaeckel said. “Now if somebody comes along and buys the building then you guys on the board will have the ability in 10 years to make an alternative plan and the city will work with you to make suitable arrangements.”
“We also feel it would be inappropriate for the city council to lock in a new owner indefinitely into having the library there,” Jaeckel continued. “So what we want to do is set up some kind of agreement for possibly 10 years.”
“Ten years seems appropriate,” Donald began. “Less than 10 years is too short.”
“We talked about this as we have a couple agreements in town that are lifetime agreements and we can’t get out of those,” said council member Kenny Holmes. “We are trying to give ourselves more options.”
“Can you put some sort of clause in there to have a right for refusal for the library?” asked guest Mike Thomas.
“We’re going to put the right to refuse any bids in there,” said Moorman.
“We were just trying to stay away from those lifetime guarantees,” Holmes added.
When asked about the finances and what the city would support, City Clerk Ann Stevens answered, “the city will support exactly what they have been supporting, the library board will still get their annual allotment as we have been and we will continue doing what we have been.”
“It would be a positive to have something upstairs there,” said Donald. “That is a definite positive.”
“It would be good for the building to have that heated yes,” Stevens said.
As guests asked about how many more repairs the building needed currently, Stevens answered, “I believe the only other thing was the roof.”
“Yes if I remember correctly the roof was the next big deal,” council member Nathan Bennett answered. “Because it does need some roof repair on it, but the wall was the biggest thing of course. I don’t remember what the cost was going to be, but there needs to be work done on the roof.”
“When do you plan on making this open for bids?” asked Ambelang.
“We will be advertising in the next two weeks,” said Stevens. “And it will be an ad for a bid and then they will need to come into the office for a spec sheet.”
“Everything with the library should remain the same except we won’t own the building,” said Moorman. “The way they are fixing up some of these buildings around town and making them look good we are hoping maybe someone can do the same with this building and kind of dress that one up a little bit.”
“You know five is definitely not enough, 10 for some might seem like it comes and goes like that, but 20 may seem scary to some so maybe a compromise is 15 years,” Bellon added. “With the understanding that it will be revisited, because I don’t want to have the idea that in 15 years the library is done.”
“No that won’t be done because we have to support a public library,” Bennett said. “It may not be in the same location but we have to have one.”
“Hopefully this will be a benefit to all parties involved, the city, the new owners and the library,” said Jaeckel.
“Thank you for your time, as you can guess the rumor mill is alive and well, so thank you for answering our questions,” Donald added.
“Nothing has happened yet and everything will be published in the paper,” Moorman assured the crowd.
“First thing I thought was they’re going to close the library, I better go to that meeting,” Ambelang stated.
“Yeah we know how the rumors go,” Moorman answered.
“If you have questions at any time you can stop by city hall and ask,” said Holmes.
“Or pick up a phone and give me a call,” said Stevens.
Once the meeting came out of public hearing, the February guest city council member was announced by council member Amber Rodgers. Rodgers announced her selection of Casey Coates, owner of Coates Guns LLC.
In public forum guest Donald added, ”It’s been a tough several weeks so I hope you know how appreciative we are of the city crew. I travel through several towns with my job and it’s been a mess everywhere and they have done a good job.”
The council approved a tax abatement request received from Andrew and Mary Goben under the city’s urban revitalization plan upon their application meeting all requests. It was also approved to set a public hearing on March 4 at 7 p.m. for the preliminary 2019-2020 fiscal year budget.
The council also amended Ordinance 338, which would allow C & E Trucking to bring roll off dumpsters into city limits with all waste needing to be taken to Mahaska County.
The council set a work session for Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. and the next city council meeting being set for Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.