Calloway County Library Board Secretary Mark Kennedy is proposing a new option for library expansion-- moving the library into the former Regions Bank building in downtown Murray.
Kennedy’s proposal titled ‘HALT,’ or “Have Another Look Together” outlines the plan. Kennedy said he believes renovating the space could be a cheaper alternative than building a new library. His proposal was first brought to the board at a recent strategic planning meeting, where Kennedy gave out packets describing the plan. The board has not taken any official action on the proposal.
Kennedy said the first floor of the building provides additional offices, a space for computers and would serve as the main part of the library. He said he could envision bookshelves in the main lobby of the bank. He said the building is 33,198 square-feet, about 300 feet more than the proposed ‘Enhanced Plan’ that has been considered by previous boards, as well as 4,576 feet more than the ‘Essential Level Plus’ plan. The current library is a little more than 12,000 square feet. The former Regions Bank building is on the market by 1st Kentucky Realty for $900,000.
The second floor is a wide open space with offices lining the edge of the room. There’s a large enclosed room with glass panels in the corner of the second floor that Kennedy said could be used for a children’s area. The second floor also has an employee cafeteria area as well as a smaller, separate kitchenette that connects to a large board room. Kennedy said there are other meeting rooms that could be utilized throughout the building.
In his proposal, Kennedy suggested making the current library a “Children’s Library,” but said during a tour of the building with WKMS News that he believes the entire library could fit into the Regions Bank building.
Community member Georgena Taylor toured the building with Kennedy, Board Treasurer Winfield Rose and others. This tour took place on November 1 and was the subject of concern for some community members, who alleged in letters written to the board that they violated the Kentucky Open Meetings Act. The board responded by saying "because Rose and Kennedy were the only two trustees in attendance during the tours of the former Regions Bank building, a quorum was not met and there was no violation of the Kentucky Open Meetings Act during these tours." The Murray Ledger and Times published an article about the tours the day before on October 31.
Taylor said though the former bank building is large, she’s concerned about how it will be utilized. She said she is also concerned about the structural integrity of the building.
“My fear is that we’re going to get in there and we’re going to do some decent renovations, but how long are those going to last?” Taylor said. “I’m not going to assume that the building is in the same conditions as the one that was next to it, but the one next to it collapsed- so this is of concern.”
A 2013 report by RBS Design Group for the City of Murray detailed their opinion of probable cost to move City Hall into the Regions Bank building. This report is circulating among community members concerned with the proposed plan. The report said the building would need updating to comply with the American With Disabilities Act and that the HVAC system would have to be replaced. Other suggested repairs included maintenance to broken doors, locks, windows, plumbing fixtures and lights, as well as painting the walls and replacing the floors.
The estimated cost in the report was more than $4 million dollars, with architectural renovations costing $1,655,000 and mechanical, electrical and plumbing costs totaling $1,345,500. Craig Thomas with RBS Design Group said their 2013 report for the City of Murray is irrelevant for moving a library into the building. Thomas said, “When we looked at the building, we did not look to see what the floor bearing capacity would be, which is a requirement when turning an existing building into a Library.”
Kennedy said he plans at the next library board meeting to propose having a structural architect and environmental architect assess the building.
This story has been updated to include a clarification about the tour of the former Regions Bank building Kennedy and Rose gave to community members on November 1.