West Side library branch considers move to Mill Creek warming house

By Peter H. Milliken



Relocating the West Side public library branch to the warming house that once served the Mill Creek Park ice rink would be nearly $400,000 cheaper than renovating the current library at 2815 Mahoning Ave., an architectural firm told the library trustees’ buildings and sites committee.

Renovating the current 1928 branch, which has a 1964 addition, would cost slightly more than $1.6 million; but renovating and expanding the 1966 warming house at the park’s James L. Wick Jr. Recreation Area would cost slightly more than $1.2 million, Frank Rulli, senior associate with Faniro Architects Inc., told the committee Tuesday.

The Faniro report, commissioned by the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, concluded that the warming house offers “a more efficient use of space” and would entail lower future operating and maintenance costs than the current library.

“The partnership with Mill Creek MetroParks would offer the opportunity for expanded programming and shared costs that would benefit the neighborhood,” the report said.

Dennis Miller, MetroParks executive director, said he expects the park district would share operating costs of the warming house with the library system.

He said restrooms and a warming room within the building would be available to support park activities when the library is closed.

Although it no longer operates the ice rink, the park uses the building as a warming house for its sledding hill.

Heidi Daniel, library director, said the library system is committed to continued library service on the city’s West Side. She wants to study the options and obtain comments from West Siders over the next two months.

After Rulli’s presentation, the committee took the matter under advisement, and it did not take a vote on which option it favors.

Daniel said the current West Side library building is underused and deteriorating and does not have a handicapped-accessible meeting room or handicapped-accessible upstairs restrooms.

When she visited that library on Presidents Day, when schools were closed, three adult patrons were using computers there, but no families were present, she observed. The Wick Recreation Area, however, was actively being used by families with children that day, she said.

The Wick Recreation Area features a playground, sled hill, athletic fields, tennis and volleyball courts, batting cages, the Par 3 golf course and an amphitheater, known as the Judge Leo P. Morley Pavilion.

Richard Atkinson, a committee member, said Western Reserve Transit Authority regular route bus service, which goes to the current library, would be essential at any new site. No regular WRTA bus route now goes directly to the Wick Recreation Area warming house.

“The park has a building that needs a use, and the library has a use that needs a building,” Rulli said.

“You don’t often have the opportunity to put a branch library in a park setting,” he added.

Families could enjoy recreation and library use in the same location, he observed.

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