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Library expansion project gets preview

Dickinson Public Library is ready to expand. Preliminary plans have been drawn that include renovations to the existing building and a new facility, which will connect to the library and be built over the adjacent vacant lot and existing Friends ...

Preliminary designs for a planned expansion of Dickinson Public Library were shown at Tuesday's meeting of the city commissioners. The designs show a new addition, connected to the main building, with a new entrance. Public forums on the project are planned for Feb. 27 and March 2. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)
Preliminary designs for a planned expansion of Dickinson Public Library were shown at Tuesday's meeting of the city commissioners. The designs show a new addition, connected to the main building, with a new entrance. Public forums on the project are planned for Feb. 27 and March 2. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson Public Library is ready to expand.

Preliminary plans have been drawn that include renovations to the existing building and a new facility, which will connect to the library and be built over the adjacent vacant lot and existing Friends of the Library bookstore.

Library Director Rita Ennen provided details on the library's plans at Tuesday's meeting of the city commissioners.

The children's story area would be moved to the space currently used for adult non-fiction to meet the demands of its growing youth programs.

"We're excited about the addition of child-sized restrooms, which the building does not have at this point in time," Ennen said.

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The current children's space would become a dedicated area for teens.

The main level would connect directly with the new addition.

A new book store would go where the periodicals and graphic novels are currently kept.

The building's original 1910 entrance will not be changed, as it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The circulation desk would be moved to be in line with the main entrance.

The front entrance would be expanded into a two-door vestibule, with places potentially for public seating and computers, as well as a coffee cart.

An expansion over the current staff parking space would provide for a larger adult non-fiction section and new entryway.

The new entrance would allow the main library to be closed while public spaces are open for weekend activities hosted by public groups.

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In the currently vacated lot, a 120-seat tiered auditorium is planned, along with two maker-space studio rooms, with a removable wall to form a single large space.

The new addition would include a basement space primarily designated for storage and mechanical space.

The library, though, is in talks with Dickinson State University to use the additional space for DSU arts department equipment, such as a photography dark room.

"The intention would be they could use that for classes, but it could be used by the public as a maker-space geared toward adults," Ennen said. "That would be unique among libraries in North Dakota."

A tory over the new addition, which would form a mezzanine into the main library, would include study rooms.

"I'd love to see one of those be a smart meeting room," Ennen said.

Expected costs for the renovations and construction were not offered, as a Bartlett and West Architects representative was not able to attend the meeting.

"(He) wants to address it himself personally, and there's enough in flux in our plans that he didn't feel comfortable giving a number yet," Ennen said.

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Three forums are planned to receive input from the public on what they would like to see with the expansion, scheduled for Feb. 27, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., and 5 to 7 p.m., and March 2, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Ennen expects to have numbers for the project following the forums.

In other business:

Commissioner Carson Steiner requested an inquiry to be sent to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation to find out what happened to $300,000 given by the city in 2017 toward the creation of a presidential library and museum project that has since moved to Medora.

"I think it's necessary that we have an idea where our money went, what time it went, and where they were at in their plan," Steiner said. "I know the commission would not have given them the money had we known they were going to do a run around us and talk about moving it. That still bothers me."

He added, "I think they owe us that. That's the least they could do."

The idea was met with support from commissioners and Mayor Scott Decker.

"I think some accounting would be appropriate," Decker said.

City Attorney Jan Murtha noted that Dickinson is the only public entity to give money to the project.

Steve Josephson, Stark County planning director, provided an update on coming planning and zoning projects.

A proposed overlay district covering five blocks directly south of DSU has been cancelled.

"It would have allowed for limited commercial uses in that area," Josephson said.

A public forum on the proposed change, held Jan. 10 at DSU with property owners and the community, was "not met with much enthusiasm."

"It was met with public opposition," Josephson said, "So, at this time, this is something we're not going to go forward with, seeing they weren't interested in it."

Decker attended the forum and confirmed the idea was not met with support.

"The meeting itself, I would say, took a turn immediately," he said. "There was suspicion that we were... trying to do something to get them out of their homes."

Decker addressed the general public about its response to the proposal.

"When you come to meetings like that, come with proper information," he said, "not what you're hearing at your coffee group or in rumor."

Related Topics: DICKINSON STATE UNIVERSITY
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