Indiana, PA - Indiana County

THOMAS L. HARRIS: Let Indiana library buy building for $1

on March 15, 2013 11:00 AM

As a former member of both Indiana Borough Council and the board of trustees of the Indiana Free Library, I have some insight and perspective into the situation detailed in the March 6 article “Library future still cloudy.”

I am concerned by the library’s precarious situation.

One solution that could benefit both parties would be to sell the Community Building to the library for a dollar.

In my opinion, the borough should not be in the business of owning properties it does not operate out of and can’t afford to keep up.

The responsibilities for maintenance and repairs are draining the borough’s budget in a difficult fiscal climate.

The lack of maintenance is detrimental to the library.

Once in possession of the building, the library would be in a much stronger position to raise funds locally and through outside grants in order to repair and upgrade this handsome historic property.

I am certain that the library would be a responsible steward of the building, and could reach an understanding with the Jimmy Stewart Museum, currently housed rent-free on the third floor, that would not put undue stress on the museum’s finances and could eventually contribute to the library’s income.

Nancy Jones, speaking for the borough, said she could not do better than the current lease, which will expire at the end of 2015. We as a town need to do better.

The library is an important anchor of our downtown. In its current location it is easily reached by public transportation, and students from the high school, junior high and two of our elementary schools can walk there after school. The fine young volunteers from IUP who tutor there can walk there from campus.

If we want it to remain there, we will need to support the library’s fundraising efforts. Concerned citizens should attend the next borough council meeting and make your voices heard in support of our library.

Thomas L. Harris

Indiana

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