Friday, June 13, 2008

Library Debating

Unproven needs got lost in a "location" debate. Unproven needs were pushed in front of $35 more million required for actual needs that PROPERTY taxpayers are going to pay.

On my visit to Five Points Library in Washington I was told that library boards are capable of making their own decisions and everybody else should stick to doing their own jobs. Sorry, I said, that is not the way it should work. All communities with their elected and appointed bodies should work together to plan the present and future of their communities.

Perhaps Washington Five Points will be an example. Community leaders got together and figured out a comprehensive plan that would benefit the whole community. So, the library became part of a community center. What a great idea for a small town. Is everybody happy? No, not even the librarian who would have preferred a separate site. But at the present it looks like the community benefited. They not only got a library but they got at least at least 8 other indoor services lacking in the community.

If our leadership's had the foresight we would have asked what could be combined with or within the immediate area of a new library. How about a senior center not connected to a church? How about an outdoor skateboard park, an outdoor ice skating rink, all visible from the street, a new Northside CityLink transfer center with day care (Thomas Lucek, General Manager said it might be worth while looking into)? How about outdoor full court basketball courts of which I believe there are none except on the far south side. I hesitate to add any amenities that would compete with the private sector but perhaps a therapy and children's pool? Or street visible tennis courts as the PPD Master plan I'm told eliminates the 13 tennis courts at upper Glen Oak.

How about a real hard look with all involved of the possibility of using the huge expanse of EXPO GARDENS and the available acres of District #150. And all would be within easy driving distance, close to some schools and plenty of parking space. Actually this was Bill Spear's idea reinforced by the JSEB who on 3/4/06 asked Ken Hinton why not link public libraries to schools? Hinton said "he would like to incorporate city libraries in the two new schools planned".

It may be time to consider reducing the space needed for EXPO's Midway and to help EXPO by helping share some of their costs. Lakeview Library, a scant two miles away could be given back to the it's owners, the park district, who might use it as a children's museum.

I suggested that to a former library board member and this person said that no one had thought of that. Of course, nothing came of my suggestion.

I've been accused of not "thinking beyond the box". Never heard of Widmers, once the largest locally owned office equipment company in Peoria? I started that company with 3 people and at one time had stores or offices in 9 locations and 90 employees, all from seed money of $5,000, a number of good employees and many long hours.

I guess I was tagged by the JSEB with that label because I didn't support the push for a four lane highway from somewhere in the Peoria area to Chicago. We might have gotten it if we had "pork Don Young" from Alaska; he of the $297 million dollar highway to nowhere where his buddy wanted to develop some property.

We have too much parochialism and too much apathy in Peoria and I don't see it changing soon. The library board showed theirs when they put half a million into the long underutilized SouthSide Library now slated for demolition. I asked PHA Superintendent Roger Johns if the homes surrounding the library were scheduled to be demolished and he said "yes". I asked "why build a library there"? He then said "they have their board; we have ours".

How sad.

Back to Five Points. If you haven't visited you are missing an area education. However, not everything they offer is applicable to Peoria.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the next time Mr Widmer "drops in" to visit a library to gather information, it would be wise for him to take notes so that he is able to accurately quote what the librarian says. Washington District Library chose its new location based on a cooperative agreement between five different entities working together to build a wonderful new building for the community. The librarian said that the nonprofit organization that is responsible for building the community center chose the location, not the library, but the library is pleased to be a part of the combined effort to bring a quality facility to Washington.