Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs made his mark on Mount Vernon. Many in town made their mark on him, too. Wirfs and his mother, Sarah, took The Gazette on a tour of his hometown, revisiting scenes around what essentially is the one square mile where he grew up. This story is a little about what can hold you back. This is mostly about what moves you forward.

News

New Marion library will be built across street from current one

Board OKs $18 million building that will double space for patrons

The Nancy A. Miller Marion Public Library is shown this year at 1095 Sixth Ave. The library’s board this week approved building a new 52,000-square-foot library — twice the size of the current library — across 11th Street in a parking lot that’s between the library and Marion City Hall. It was a decision six years in the making. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
The Nancy A. Miller Marion Public Library is shown this year at 1095 Sixth Ave. The library’s board this week approved building a new 52,000-square-foot library — twice the size of the current library — across 11th Street in a parking lot that’s between the library and Marion City Hall. It was a decision six years in the making. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

MARION — A new Marion Public Library will be built on land next door to the current library.

The library’s board on Monday agreed to build an $18 million library on land known as the Katz parking lot, across 11th Street from the current library, 1095 Sixth Ave, and between the library and Marion City Hall.

The Marion Public Library Foundation bought the land years ago and donated it to the city for library use.

“This is a key step forward for the building project that will be followed by discussion of project and design plans at the next board of trustees meeting,” according to a statement from the library.

Earlier this year, project leaders scrapped a roughly six-year-old plan that would have put the larger library in a new mixed-use building on the land that now houses Marion Square Plaza.

Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn said at the time a number of financial challenges contributed to abandoning the plan, including the state’s new lease-purchase law.

Now, local governments are required to bid out projects rather than finding a contractor they feel fits the project. So the library portion of the mixed-use development would have had to be bid separately from the rest of the privately owned building.

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Last month, the Marion City Council passed a resolution of support for building a free-standing, 52,000-square-foot library in Uptown for no more than $18 million.

Potential funding sources include $5 million from the local-option sales tax that went into effect about five years ago; an estimated $3 million from the sale of the current library’s lot; a $3 million capital campaign; $1 million in tax increment financing; and an estimated $6 million bond for the remainder.

The 24,500-square-foot Nancy A. Miller Marion Public Library opened in 1996. Since then, Marion’s population has grown from 26,000 to just under 40,000 today, with an average of 1,000 visitors per day to the library, according to library staffers, who say more room is needed for programming and technology.

How we’ve covered this:

The Gazette has covered the Marion Public Library expansion extensively because it’s a project a decade in the making. Both the current library and possible sites for a new one are in Marion’s Uptown district.

Take a look back at The Gazette’s past coverage:

• October 2016: Marion abandons the idea of tearing down the old library and building a new one on the same site, instead seeing it as part of a mixed-use development.

• February 2017: Marion library and city officials get on the same page for Marion Square Plaza redevelopment to include new library.

• February 2017: Marion community members have differing views where to put the new library.

• July 2017: Purchase negotiations for Marion Square Plaza take longer than expected.

• June 2018: Marion’s initial view is that a new state law could make building in a multiuse development more challenging than expected.

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• November 2018: What the multiuse/library project means for existing businesses in Marion Square Plaza.

• April 2019: Marion library won’t relocate to strip mall site.

• June 2019: Marion City Council supports new direction for library.

• Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.