the reinvented Burrell Township Library

Joanie Leinbach, of Grand Junction, Colo., checked the offerings — mainly children’s books — Wednesday evening at the reinvented Burrell Township Library in the community meeting room of the township office building.

BLACK LICK — As the doors have opened for the first time in 20 months on a makeshift version of the Burrell Township Library and as local leaders begin budgeting for construction of a replacement building, comes word that vacant ground on Main Street in Black Lick is being offered for the library’s new home.

The Burrell Township supervisors said Wednesday that Highridge Water Authority and former township supervisor Floyd Hilty have offered to donate adjacent vacant lots at Main Street and Blaire Road as the site for a combination of the library and township offices.

The Highridge ground is the former site of the Lower Indiana County Municipal Authority, which Highridge absorbed in 2008.

Hilty’s family was among the library’s founders 42 years ago.

From Sept. 14, 1977, until early January 2018, the library operated in a modular building that it shared with the Burrell Township Sewage Authority. But a water pipe froze and burst in the midwinter cold, showered water into the library office — undiscovered over the course of a weekend — and ruined the flooring, leading to the condemnation of the building.

Since the closing, the sewage authority found new offices in the Corporate Campus industrial park, and library leaders led a three-pronged fight: to find storage for the book collection, to find new service for the library patrons and to find a new home.

The Indiana and Blairsville libraries offered memberships to Burrell Township patrons in the interim, but library director Jen Van Hannak said Wednesday that the Burrell library members can come back home. Some bookshelves and desks have been moved into the back of the township supervisors meeting room and the library reopened Sept. 5 for service, four hours on Thursdays and four hours on Saturdays.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the community. I’ve done several renewals and new library cards, so people are definitely glad that we’re open again,” Van Hannak said. “In the transition between the Blairsville and Indiana libraries extending free service to us, I’m asking that those in Burrell Township need to be coming here. Even though we have limited hours, we will be increasing month by month.”

Having a functioning library, no matter how small, serves to maintain recognition with the state library board and keeps it eligible for grant assistance.

The library in February was promised a $200,000 state grant when its recovery plan called for replacing the building on the same site on Park Drive, one block away from Main Street, with a larger modular structure that would put the library’s books and public computer bank, the township business offices and a shared community meeting room all under one roof.

The Main Street site has plenty of advantages, the supervisors said. It can handle the larger building, provide more parking space, offer greater visibility and potentially attract more patrons.

Van Hannak said the library board plans to begin a capital campaign in October, and supervisor Larry Henry said the supervisors will decide during 2020 budget planning how much township cash is available and how much money needs to be borrowed to complete the project.

The latest estimate to set up and furnish the new library and township office is $325,000, the supervisors said.

In other business, the supervisors:

• Reported that a modified version of the tall grass ordinance introduced at the August meeting, reflecting changes suggested by township residents, is under final review by solicitor Michael Supinka and will be advertised for adoption at the Oct. 16 meeting.

• Put a 2004 Freightliner dump truck up for sale. The truck is equipped with a snowplow and salt spreader, and has four-wheel drive and 58,000 miles. The supervisors plan to open bids Oct. 16.

Staff writer/Web Editor, The Indiana (Pa.) Gazette

Staff Writer/Web Editor

Chauncey Ross represents the Gazette at the Indiana Area and Homer-Center school boards and White Township, Center Township, Homer City and Burrell Township, and is something of an Open Records, Right to Know and Sunshine Law advocate in the newsroom.