Ex-Sullivan site eyed for possible 2nd city library
If the price is right, Fargo may soon get a second full-scale library in the former Sullivan Middle School building on 32nd Avenue South. Lease negotiations are under way for the proposed 22,000-square-foot library, which would replace the 3,600-...
If the price is right, Fargo may soon get a second full-scale library in the former Sullivan Middle School building on 32nd Avenue South.
Lease negotiations are under way for the proposed 22,000-square-foot library, which would replace the 3,600-square-foot Southpointe branch in the nearby Sunmart Foods strip mall. The new library would be in addition to the 31,000-square-foot downtown library between Third and Fourth streets and north of First Avenue North.
In order to pay for the project, the library is requesting $1.6 million from the city's 2005 budget.
The majority of that money would be spent on books and materials, according to Fargo Library Director Charles Pace, who figures 50,000 to 60,000 new volumes would be needed for the new space. Pace said a complete cost estimate for new library may be available in August, once negotiations with the building owner are complete.
The idea of a new southside library stems from a recent study by Minneapolis consultant Bob Rohlf that recommends Fargo expand the southside branch from 3,600 square feet to 10,000 square feet to accommodate the increasing number of people who use it.
In June, 11,000 people used the Southpointe branch at 3051 25th St. S., an increase of 3,000 people from May figures.
The old Sullivan school building, 2720 32nd Ave. S.W., would be even larger than what the study proposes.
Pace said the collection at the new library would be more comprehensive than at Southpointe and additional meeting and event rooms would be available.
Pace said he'd also like to see a teen resource center, a coffee shop and an area for the Friends of the Public Library, the library's fund-raising arm.
Monte Kjos, who owns the former Sullivan Middle School building, thinks the library would be a good fit for the space.
Kjos, owner of Comstock Land Co. in Fargo, said he's had some other interest in the space, but he's holding out to give the library the first shot.
Kjos said he would even be willing to donate some money to retrofit the space, formerly home to the now-relocated Catholic middle school and, before that, Interstate Business College. Pace said many of the building's existing walls would have to be torn down to open up the space. The library expects it will need to look outside the city's taxpayer money for help. Some community fund-raising may be necessary, Pace said.
Library Board member Prakash Mathew said he believes the time is right for the new full-sized library.
Library support seems to be high right now, Mathew said. It helps that the proposed new site is in a prime location, he said.
Once a lease deal is reached, and if the City Commission ultimately agrees to the plan, it could be at least another year before Southpointe -- open since 2002 -- closes down and the new library opens.
Whether a new facility would keep the Southpointe name has yet to be decided.
Three years are left on the Southpointe lease agreement. It's possible Kjos would buy out the remaining time on that lease, but that's all part of the negotiating process, Pace said.
The consultant's study also recommends constructing a new 45,000-square-foot main library downtown in 2006, building a small northside branch in 2005, and working with West Fargo and Cass County to build a 25,000-square-foot facility in the southwest metro area in 2011.
For now, though, library leaders are focusing on the south side.
Pace said he's hopeful the new library will garner city and community support needed to set plans in motion.
"The demand is very, very high there," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531