Posted on 24 September 2015.
This photo shows the Cedar Springs Public Library when it shared a home with the Cedar Springs Fire Department. The Library is still in this building.
Cedar Springs Public Library Capital Campaign
By Tom Noreen
On September 12, the Community Building Development Team (CDBT), in conjunction with the Cedar Springs Library Board, kicked off a capital campaign drive to raise about $1.2 million dollars for the construction a new $1.75 million, 10,000 square foot library. The initial goal is to raise $750,000 by the end of the year, to combine with the $600,000 already on hand, so that the project can go out for bids in February 2016, when building costs are typically the lowest.
Nick Andres opened the event, held at the American Legion, with a short history of the Cedar Springs Public Library. He related how the Clipper Girls, Grace Hamilton and Nina Babcock championed the establishment and millage creating the library in 1936. Since 1999, Solon Township has also been a part of the organization providing funding from its General Fund.
Kurt Mabie, President of the CDBT, then spoke about the vision to recreate the Heart of Cedar Springs. He spoke of how, as a child growing up in Cedar Springs, he remembered how close knit the community was and the pride residents had about the town. One way to help recreate this closeness and pride, he said, is to create a place where people can meet, exchange ideas, have fun, and be proud to call home.
An initial part of this vision is to bring to fruition the dream of a new library, located on the northwest corner of Main and Maple Streets, just south of Cedar Creek. It has been on the drawing board for 15 years. Other parts of the vision include building a boardwalk that would extend from North Park along the creek to Muskegon Street. On the other side of the library, next to the White Pine Tail, plans are in place for an amphitheater that would look like the old Grand Rapids and Indiana Rail Road depot that sat across Maple Street to the south. The next phase would add a community building on the west side of the White Pine Trail. The final phase would see the construction of a recreation center.
Concurrently, the CDBT is working with the North Country Trail Association and the National Park Service to route the North Country Trail through Cedar Springs and then across Solon Township to its current terminus in the Rogue River State Game Area. The trail would offer another recreational opportunity to the community and an economic one as well, with Cedar Springs and Solon Township becoming Trail Communities.
Throughout his animated talk, Mabie continually praised all of the organizations, municipalities, and individuals that were making this possible and the great cooperation that existed in this project, evidence of the Heart of Cedar Springs at work.
Next up was librarian Donna Clark who spoke first hand of the need for a new facility. The existing 2,000 square foot facility is packed to overflowing with 26,000 items and 28,000 patrons a year. The building is not readily accessible to those with physical limitations because of the narrow doors and isles plus an all too small bathroom that is on the far side of the janitor’s closet. Because the facility is not large enough, library programs overflow into the open space outdoors next to the library in good weather, and into the schools, churches and Morley Park as well.
Mayor Pro tem Pam Conely told how public libraries were a unique tradition of the United States starting originally as subscription libraries with the first one formed by Ben Franklin and a few friends in 1731. Cedar Springs’ first library followed this pattern. In 1790, Franklin, Massachusetts established the first true public library. In the late 1900s, Andrew Carnegie provided funds for over 1,600 new libraries in the US.
She went on to say that ever since moving to Cedar Springs she was aware of the desire to build a new library. She remembered when the millage failed to create a Cedar Springs-Solon Township Library District, when the Holtons and Mabies donated the property, when the first $100,000 was raised, and when she got dunked as part of a summer reading program to help raise funds for the library. Pam said the City was behind the program and that she is working with Councilman Dan Clark on finding funding through grants and other funding streams.
Solon Township Supervisor Bob Ellick closed the official presentations by thanking the community for sharing their time and talents to make the new library possible.
After the speakers, the group broke for a supper catered by Kelly’s Restaurant. The American Legion hosted the event and over 125 people from the community attended.
Since this was the kick off for the capital campaign, pledge cards were passed out and folks were encouraged to either make a donation or a pledge. An anonymous donor offered to match the first $5,000 raised. When the totals were counted, about $62,000 was raised.