Downtown redevelopment is a growing topic in Eudora as discussions heat up for both a new library and a police/fire station to be built on the site of a former school building.
The Eudora City Council has scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss ideas related to a new public safety facility that could be built on the site of a recently razed school building on the south end of downtown Eudora.
The city discussion comes at the same time that leaders of the Eudora Public Library begin planning and gauging public interest in constructing a new library on a separate portion of the former school site, which consumes about a city block.
“We’re working really hard to add to the downtown and revitalize the entire area,” said Kenny Massey, who serves on the Eudora City Council and also is chairman of the library’s board. “I see this 900 block of Main Street as having a lot of potential.”
Massey said that the current library is cramped for space and that now is a good time to begin planning for a new facility because the library board is looking for a new director. Marlene Evinger retired from the director’s post at the end of the year, ending a 27-year tenure.
“She has taken that library and really transformed it,” Massey said. “It is to the point now that the number of patrons who come into the building for services is more than the building can really handle.”
Evinger said she hopes community members ultimately get behind the idea of a new library.
“There is so much I would like to see the library be able to do,” Evinger said. “I really would like it to become a center point for the community.”
Both Evinger and Massey said having a library that could support more computers and other pieces of technology was a goal. Additional space for meeting rooms also is high on the list of possible improvements.
Massey said the library board will have multiple discussions in 2012 about possible plans for a new library and will reach out to the community to get feedback.
“It is our hope to start planning in a very detailed fashion with the help of some outside entities,” Massey said. “We need to find out what we want the library to be.”
The library falls under the jurisdiction of the Eudora Township. Massey said that ultimately any project will have to involve support from township voters.
“I have no doubt that to make this financially feasible we will have to have a serious discussion about the mill levy the township provides to the library,” Massey said.
But exactly when voters may be asked to sign off on the project is still uncertain. Massey said he anticipates much of this year being devoted to planning and feedback. But he said he could envision a project in the next three years.
Plans for a new public safety building that could house the city’s fire and police departments are moving more quickly. A spokeswoman at Eudora City Hall said the council recently hired an architect to begin creating plans for the public safety building.
Tuesday’s special meeting will be for council members and city leaders to give feedback to the architect.
The public safety building would be on the southern half of the former school site, which is at the intersection of 10th and Main streets. The library is envisioned for the north end of the site. The city and the library already own the necessary property for the project. The school district divided up the property with the library and the city in exchange for the two groups helping pay for the approximately $200,000 in costs to demolish the deteriorating Eudora Community Learning Center building.