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Archive for Saturday, September 6, 1997

OTTAWA ARTS COUNCIL EYES CARNEGIE BUILDING

September 6, 1997

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— Thirty miles south of Lawrence, in Ottawa, an arts organization hopes to move into the city's Carnegie library.

What a difference 30 miles can make.

As the Lawrence Arts Center announced plans to move out of its Carnegie building at Ninth and Vermont, the Ottawa Community Arts Council was working toward moving into Ottawa's Carnegie library.

"We're very hopeful," said Jeanette Lowry, an arts council board member who is heading a campaign to move to the old library. "We're one step closer after this week, but we're not there yet."

Owned by the city and built in 1903, the Carnegie building was used as a library until Sept. 3, 1996, when the library moved to its current home at 105 S. Hickory.

Since the library moved, the city has been looking for a new tenant. Proposals came in from the arts council, now at 105 E. Fifth, and the Friends of the Library, which wanted space to store books and make preparations for an annual book sale.

Lowry said the two organizations met about sharing the building, but were unable to form a plan.

Unable to pay utilities, estimated at $10,000 a year, the arts council formed a partnership with Ottawa Suzuki Strings to share the building.

Ottawa Suzuki Strings, a musical performance and educational organization based at Ottawa University, agreed to pay part of the utilities.

Meanwhile, a new option became available for the Friends of the Library when space opened in a city storage building. The friends group now is involved in negotiations with the city and Ottawa police, who also want to use the storage facility, on a possible lease.

If the lease comes through, the arts council would be free to move into the Carnegie building.

City commissioners have not set a date to consider the issue, but are expected to discuss the matter by early October.

Scott Bird, city clerk, said previous discussions about the matter indicated that the city would lease the building for a minimal amount -- perhaps as low as $1 a year.

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