Kokomo — Kokomo-Howard County Public Library officials voted unanimously Monday to pursue a new building in downtown Kokomo, after months of indecision on a location.
The library board voted to renew its interest in the parking lot currently owned by the Kokomo Tribune, on the northwest corner of Mulberry and Market streets downtown.
The building, which is expected to cost roughly $842,115, not including architect fees, would house the library’s outreach and collection management offices.
For close to two years, board members have been trying to decide whether to build a new building or renovate an existing structure, and they’ve also been trying to decide on a location — either downtown or elsewhere.
Monday, board vice president Susan Luttrell said the board’s feasibility study committee recommended the Tribune parking lot site. Luttrell didn’t offer any specific reason for the decision.
Luttrell said the plan calls for the Tribune to donate the parking lot to the library, and for the city of Kokomo to purchase the currently unused parking lot at the southwest corner of Taylor and Market streets.
That lot is currently owned by AT&T, Luttrell said. After purchasing the AT&T lot, the city would then give the lot to the Tribune to replace its parking spaces.
Tribune publisher Robyn McCloskey confirmed Monday the company had been involved in past discussions concerning the parking lot swap, but said she hasn’t had any recently.
“We’ve not had any recent discussions, so I’m unaware of what their plans are currently,” McCloskey said.
In November 2010, board members tabled a proposal to build an addition onto the South Branch library, 1755 E. Center Road, citing cost concerns.
The board had voted in October to expand the South Branch, just after the Kokomo-Center School board rejected the library board’s bid to purchase the former Lincoln school.
The South Branch addition would have cost around $1.25 million — far more than the $800,000 the board originally budgeted for the project.
The feasibility study committee has been working in recent months to trim the cost of the proposed project, Luttrell said, and found ways to cut about $123,000.
The cuts included reducing the number of restrooms in the new building, limiting the amount of masonry used on the exterior, and building a wood-framed building, instead of a steel-framed building.
• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He may be reached at 765-454-8569 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org