City commissioners pledge support for library grant
The Holton City Commission on Monday evening voiced its support for a grant that could help fund one of the renovations planned at Beck Bookman Library as part of the library’s 125th-anniversary celebration — the installation of a vestibule to replace the door at the library’s main entrance on the east side of the building.
Library director Amy Austin met with commissioners to discuss plans to install a vestibule to replace the east entrance door, which Austin and others said is difficult to open and keep closed, as well as to get support for an application for a Kansas Department of Commerce Strategic Economic Expansion and Development (SEED) grant that could be used to cover part of the cost of building the vestibule.
Commissioners voiced approval of a support letter to be added to the grant application, which Austin said is being handled by Holton/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce director Ashlee York on behalf of the library and other organizations that are seeking a piece of the grant. The support letter is also a requirement of the grant application, she added.
The commission also expressed support for the construction of a vestibule — a small room connecting a building’s exterior with its interior — to replace the single entrance door.
“For a year, I’ve been saying, what’s wrong with this door?” commissioner Marilyn Watkins told Austin. “I’m always pushing it shut, and it doesn’t stay.”
Austin agreed, noting that keeping the library door shut is not the only problem with it. Many patrons have to press a button to get the door to open, she said, and once the door is opened, it stays open “for a certain amount of time, and then you have to wait for it to close,” which is problematic during cold winter months.
Austin later noted that the door handle broke in recent months, and since it was manufactured in Germany, not only are replacement parts expensive, but “it would take a long time to get here.”
The door also allows leaves and debris to blow into the library from outside, Austin said, adding, “I basically rake leaves every day inside the building.”
Installation of a vestibule — which Austin said could cost about $30,000, according to an architect’s estimate — would not only be an aesthetic improvement to the library, but it would also contribute to making the library building more energy-efficient, as there would be one automatic door leading from outside into the vestibule and another leading from the vestibule into the library.
“I thought that that would be a good way to start off our remodeling and building project, because we are getting that under way and we have a ton of fund-raising going on,” Austin said. “We have been saving money, so I thought at least we could get that done this year to kick it off and say, look what we did for our 125th anniversary.”
Commissioner Eric Bjelland offered Austin his advice on purchasing automatic door openers and agreed with Austin’s assessment that the vestibule would make the library more energy-efficient. Commissioners voiced their approval of the support letter for the SEED grant application, and City Clerk Teresa Riley offered to retype the letter on the city’s letterhead for Dieckmann to sign.
Regarding the SEED grant, the Department of Commerce is accepting only one application per county, so several organizations are seeking funds through a single application, which must be returned to the department by Sept. 30, York said yesterday. In addition to the library, funds are being sought for the Jackson County Historical Society, the Chamber, Holton Meat Processing and possibly “one other entity,” she added.