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What happens to the old library? Town officials discuss options

by GEOFF FOX

With a new library set to open later this fall, Hancock officials discussed the possible removal or use of the current library building in Widmeyer Park.

Part of the agreement between the town and the Washington County was the building had to be moved or demolished due to them not wanting it in proximity to the new library.

Town officials discussed the future of the current library once the new library is open.

Councilman Levi Little brought the topic up for discussion during the September town meeting saying one thing that had been discussed was the removal of the current library building.

Town Manager David Smith said a notice seeking bids for demolition was ready to be published, but the brakes had been put on it to include a clause that would allow an individual to move the building.

Little suggested having an inspector come in to check the building for mold. Smith said an inspector had already inspected it and deemed the mold not harmful.

Smith said the building would need to be removed or torn down.

Mayor Ralph Salvagno said the question is the maintenance of a building that would serve no public use once the library moves.

Smith said the building is already expensive to keep open as it needs a heating system, air conditioning system, new roof, and the furnace runs almost non-stop.

Salvagno compared the building to a vehicle that keeps breaking down.

“It’s like that 15 year old car that’s just going to nickel and dime to death,” he said.

Little said the building could be used for several things such as a salt building, but they’d have to look at the cost of tearing the building the down compared to moving it.

It’s up to the town to decide what happens to the building once it’s empty. Salvagno said the only thing the county requires is that it’s not torn down before the new library is opened.

Councilman Tim Boyer suggested using the building as a museum for the Historical Society and the collection in the basement of Town Hall.

Smith said the Historical Society wouldn’t be able to maintain the building. Councilman Leo Murray said the building couldn’t handle everything in the collection.

Little asked what the cost difference would be between tearing it down and giving it to someone who would have to move it. The library was moved once before in the early 1990s from the area just below the Lions Pavilion to its current location.

“I’m just wanting to be completely informed before we make a decision and then somebody ends up saying, ‘Well why’d you tear it down? We could have used it and repaired it and it would have cost way less’,” Little said.

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