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Parkland Library Board Not Giving Up on New Building Plan

Board may appeal to voters again, scale back project to build new library in Upper Macungie Township.

The inside of the Parkland Community Library on Walbert Avenue.
The inside of the Parkland Community Library on Walbert Avenue.

Since losing a ballot question in November that would have helped pay for a new facility, the Parkland Community Library board of directors has been analyzing election results and planning its next move.

The board has not given up on its goal of building a new library on Grange Road in Upper Macungie Township, though how it plans to get there remains unclear.

The possibilities include changing the size and scope of the project to curtail the anticipated $13 million cost to build, according to library Executive Director Debbie Jack.

They also include going back to the voters and, once again, asking for additional funding, she said. The board is mulling its options and will likely make some kind of decision in the spring, Jack said.

On Friday, the board sent out its first news release since the referendum defeat saying it is “setting a new course.”

“We are in the process of determining what needs to change in order for a new library to become a reality,” Karl Siebert, president of the board of directors, said in the release.

Siebert and other library supporters continue to argue that the library has outgrown its current space on Walbert Avenue, next door to the South Whitehall Township municipal building.

In the second largest community in Lehigh County, Parkland has the smallest library and the least amount of lending materials per capita of any local library, Siebert said. A lack of space forces the Parkland Community Library to keep more than 7,000 of its books in storage rather than on the shelves in circulation.

By a margin of 59-41 percent, voters in the Parkland School District rejected an increase of .1978 mills for a new building. Taxpayers continue to pay .1 mills in library tax. An increase would have increased the library tax on the average homeowner—with a property assessed at $221,000 by $44 a year.

The additional tax would have paid for a $9 million loan to help build the new library—which was estimated to cost $13 million. The library has already set aside about $4 million for the project.

An analysis of the ballot results showed that voters in Upper Macungie Township and in the Allentown portion of the Parkland School District voted in favor of the increase, the library news release said.

Meanwhile, 58 percent of voters in South Whitehall Township and 73 percent of voters in North Whitehall Township rejected the question.

Scott Laughton January 24, 2014 at 07:33 PM
no reason for a 13 million dollar library, the new cetronia ambulance headquarters is 68000 square feet and costs 10 million, If upper macungie voters ok'd the tax, just tax them, they are the only ones going to be using a library so far from north whitehall.... Anyone know how many square feet the new library with the starbucks is supposed to be?
Sarah C January 25, 2014 at 07:17 AM
I am completely in favor of a new library, and I did vote to support it. I really do wish that they would consider a more central location however. Maybe then they could find the support they need. The current library is ridiculously inadequate for a community our size.
Scott Laughton January 27, 2014 at 04:44 PM
Why is the new library location NOT on a public transportation route? Do the clueless leaders of the library want people to have access to the library regardless of economic status or did they site the new location to exclude most of south whitehall and all of north whitehall resdients from having the benefits of a library they are being taxed for? The new location is catering to a small select few at the cost of the majority. No reason to have a star bucks and amphitheater type meeting room in a secluded area away from LANTA.
Scott Laughton January 27, 2014 at 04:45 PM
they can sell the new licrary location land and find adequate space somewhere else, such as the shoemaker car dealership next to the Jaindl new development

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