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Library project narrows scope

Trustee John Karl has been outspoken in his support of a plan that would return to a design offered to the Legislature several years ago. That plan would keep the McChesney Room intact and allow for expansion of the building's footprint to the east by about 7,000 square feet.

Karl said it's possible that the board will revert to its old plan. He also said the most recent proposal is "not entirely dead, even though the county says it is."

Hughes said it's important that the county remain involved in the project by being represented on the committee. The county owns the main branch building. At press time, no legislator has been named to the committee.

"The priority has to be the citizens and getting the best possible service to them," said Hughes of a possible redesign.

The board of trustees also established another committee that will explore the possibility of creating a library district, which would allow the public to vote on renovation plans. The creation of a library district would also put the financing of such projects into the hands of the public through an annual budget vote.

Karl, a former teacher in the Bethlehem School District, is chairing the committee.

He said the committee will provide information to the board of trustees and will take several years to complete.

The establishment of a library district would require home rule legislation by the state.

"I remember at Bethlehem, library budgets were voted on with the school budget," said Karl. "And the library budget never failed."

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