116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The old Marion Public Library’s fate seems to be demolition.
The Marion City Council voted Thursday to direct staff to proceed with getting bids for demo of the old library building while concurrently beginning the Central Corridor Review process that would ultimately approve the demolition of the building.
“We’ve been talking about this over the last year,” City Manager Ryan Waller said during the Tuesday work session.
The old library was heavily damaged during the August 2020 derecho and lost around 20 percent of the materials collection at the time. Still today, some parts of the building are boarded up and tarps cover parts of the roof.
“It’s uninhabitable based on the electrical system and utilities are no longer present,” Fire Chief Tom Fagen said. “We’ve identified it is not safe to be in the building.”
“The building is not in danger of falling down, but there are outside parts in the right condition that could blow off the building,” City Building Official Gary Hansen said. “That’s really the biggest danger. Broken windows have been bordered up, but there are items not secure on the outside of the building.”
Marion had already been operating without a permanent, fully-open library since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.
But after using multiple temporary locations and leasing a location on Seventh Avenue for the better part of two years, the new library, which is located across the street from the old one, opened in November.
Waller said the reason to do both processes at the same time is to take advantage of the slower construction season and save taxpayer dollars.
“We do think this time frame will help us capitalize on slower parts of the construction season hopefully and make our taxpayer dollars go further,” Waller said.
The Uptown Marion Design Committee and Planning and Zoning Commission will review the request primarily based on how the site will be left following a demolition, which includes parking, seeding and access as part of the Central Corridor Review Process.
The Uptown Marion Design Committee is expected to meet on Feb. 1. The Planning and Zoning Commission’s review is anticipated to take place on Feb. 14, with city council action on Feb. 23. In that meeting the council may direct staff to solicit bids for demolition.
The cost of the new library came in at around $18 million. The funding comes from a fundraising campaign that raised $3.3 million, $5 million in local-option sales tax funding and $10 million in general obligation bonds.
Around $270,000 in insurance from the old library’s damage went toward expenses, including the library collection and building repairs, plus rental fees for the temporary facilities that were used before the new building was opened. Around $652,000 went toward lost revenue. The city still has $381,355 in insurance money, but its use is yet to be determined, Waller said.
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