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County Tax Increase Could Lead to New Affton Library

If voters approve Proposition L in November, the tax increase would be used to replace the building at the Tesson Ferry Branch in Affton.

Replacing the 50-year-old St. Louis County Library branch in Affton would be a high priority if voters approve the library’s proposed tax increase on Nov. 4.

Of the system’s 20 public library branches, the Tesson Ferry Branch and three others are slated for a new building if Proposition L, a proposed 6-cent per $100 assessed valuation tax, is approved by voters.

The process started when St. Louis County Library Board of Trustees commissioned Aaron Cohen Associates Ltd. to develop the library's facilities master plan. What emerged in February was a 10-year program of major improvements, new library construction and program enhancements that would modernize the library system in what Aaron Cohen Associates calls a "bold vision for the future." 

The vision includes a priority list of recommended construction projects to be completed in the next 10 years at a potential cost of $108.4 million.

The master plan indicates there are many problems at the current Tesson Ferry Branch building, including deterioration of the building structure, failure of mechanical systems, multiple sinkholes on the property and inadequate and inefficient parking.

The master plan recommends a new Tesson Ferry Branch library building of 40,000 square feet be built on a new site. A new lot with a minimum of 200,000 square feet and/or five acres would be required. Costs for the building and land are estimated at $20 million.

The master plan proposes $76.9 million in construction of new libraries, $12.7 million in existing building renovations and another $9 million in upgrades.

The library board last asked for a tax increase in 1983. It's estimated that homeowners in a $200,000 home would pay an extra $23 per year if Proposition L passes.

Around South County, improvements are also proposed for the Meramec Valley Branch in Fenton and the Cliff Cave Branch library in Oakville.

Major renovations of the Cliff Cave Branch at 5430 Telegraph Rd., in Oakville, are being recommended in the library master plan, including enhancements to children’s, teen and adult spaces. In addition, building improvements would consist of additional seating, collaborative spaces and upgrades to furniture and finishes.

The Cliff Cave Branch, at 18,940 square feet, was built in 1980 and has been upgraded four times. The Cliff Cave Branch improvements are estimated to cost $1 million.

In Fenton, the library master plan also recommends a new building of 15,000 square feet for the Meramec Valley Branch, which currently is housed in space it rents from the City of Fenton. A new location site would need to be 140,000 square feet or 3.5 acres in size, according to the master plan.

The new library building, including land costs, is expected to cost $7.9 million.

Read the full report on the St. Louis County Library Board's 10-year improvement plan on its website at http://www.slcl.org/sites/default/files/shared-files/FacilitiesMasterPlan2012.pdf

J. Adams October 03, 2012 at 05:33 PM
We are frequent library patrons and very much appreciate the wide selection and availability of titles. However, with the major tax increase scheduled for January 2013 from the federal government, in addition to the increasing property taxes for our home in Affton, we are voting NO on Proposition L.
Chris Mallie October 11, 2012 at 10:55 AM
I'm with J. Adams. I am a supporter of the library system. But I don't believe that expanding buildings and space is wise. Libraries need to have a more decentralized distribution model with less dedicated space. No more lobbies, atriums, dead space, meeting rooms, auditoriums, performance space, classrooms, and other "soft space." Make them lean, efficient, and able to last well into the future. While anyone can cite outliers that libraries need a large physical presence (such as poor people wanting to access the internet), the actual facts remain that not many people need to visit and stay in a library to take advantage of it. What other places distribute media? Blockbuster. Family Video. Hollywood Video. And we know how that model is evolving - Netflix, Redbox, online streaming. Take that away fro the library and you're left with the fact that, while we probably will need physical library space for some time into the future, the need is diminishing. And that does not equal building more library space. NO on Prop L!

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