In a recent decision, the James River Valley Library System Board of Directors has given the nod for a comprehensive site study of the Masonic Temple. This move aims to evaluate the temple’s potential as a suitable location for the expansion of the Alfred Dickey Public Library. The decision, however, was not unanimous, with a 4-3 vote in favor.
The study, contracted to JLG Architects, will set the library system back by $15,600. Joe Rector, the library system director, highlighted that the structural, mechanical, and electrical aspects of the study would cost around $8,000. Lee Dobrinz from JLG Architects emphasized that the study would leverage the findings from a space-needs analysis conducted in 2022. This previous study had ascertained the spatial requirements of the library system for the present and foreseeable future.
The space-needs analysis revealed that the library system would require approximately 36,086 square feet. This space would encompass areas for entry, community activities, children’s, teen, and adult sections, and administrative functions. The current Alfred Dickey Public Library spans about 12,000 square feet.
While the study aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the Masonic Temple’s condition and the necessary improvements, some board members expressed reservations. Gail Martin, a board member, questioned the need for such an expensive study and suggested that the city of Jamestown should consider purchasing the building instead. She also raised concerns about the feasibility of operating two separate library buildings.
The James River Valley Library System, established in 2009, resulted from the merger of the Alfred Dickey and Stutsman County libraries. Board member Emmaline Roorda emphasized the importance of the site study to make an informed decision about the Masonic Temple’s viability for expansion.
Other potential locations for a new library were also discussed, with Martin inquiring about land near the Two Rivers Activity Center. Austin Bauer, a real estate agent, informed that the Jamestown Public School District owns the said land.
Charlotte Freeberg, another board member, stressed the importance of a central location for the library, especially considering the number of students from nearby schools who frequent it. The cost of acquiring the Masonic Temple and its current condition, including the lack of essential systems like heating and ventilation, were also topics of discussion.
In conclusion, while the decision to conduct the site study has been made, the future of the Masonic Temple as a potential library expansion site remains uncertain.