11/17/08 — Mount Olive library to move

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Mount Olive library to move

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 17, 2008 1:46 PM

What has been an empty storefront for close to a decade soon could enjoy renewed life as the new home of Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive.

The first step in that direction could come Tuesday when County Manager Lee Smith is expected to recommend commissioners authorize $400,000 to purchase the old Belk-Tyler building on West Main Street from Mount Olive College.

The county budgeted $200,000 in its current budget for the purchase, and commissioners would have to appropriate the remaining $200,000 in the 2009-10 budget.

Basically, Mount Olive College would give the county a promissory note on the $200,000 remaining until July 1, Smith said. As part of the deal, Mount Olive College will pay for a survey of the property.

The purchase has been in the works for about a year, Smith said.

Currently, Steele Memorial Library is housed in a town-owned building on North Chestnut Street, one block north of the old Belk property.

Meanwhile, the Mount Olive Town Board, at its Nov. 1 meeting, authorized $25,000 to purchase a lot located next to the Housing Authority building.

That property, too, is owned by the college and is located directly across Main Street from the Belk property.

The town's action is contingent on the county's purchase of the Belk property.

"The library board has done a great job assessing what its facilities needs are for the future," Smith said. "We have looked at construction, but with prices the way they are now, there are actually pretty good deals on existing property out there."

Smith said the county looked at square footage cost versus new and could see a savings in purchasing the building.

Steele Memorial has outgrown its space, Smith said.

"There are times people have to wait to get inside; it is a small building," he said. "We need to expand that. Obviously that end of the county is growing, and we need to offer some more services there for library patrons.

"It is a very nice building in the downtown area with good parking in the front and back. There is warehouse space where they could warehouse books also.

"We are really trying to prepare for the future. The building has become available, and I think it is an opportunity that we don't need to miss."