Wood county library looks into new lot for parking

Kristen Vasas and Kristen Vasas

The expanse of yellow dust and mud that now sits on the corner of North Church and West Court streets is still just that: a sandy, barren tract.

The lot, which at one time was occupied by a two-story white historic home surrounded by hundred-year-old trees, was razed in August in order to make room for a new parking lot for the Wood County District Public Library.

The library intended to purchase the plot of land from Robert Maurer, the property’s owner and local real estate developer after the land was re-zoned by City Council from an R-2 Single Family Residential to an I-1 Institutional lot.

However, in October council members voted unanimously, 6-0, against zoning changes for the property, according to Mayor Quinn.

Also, in January Maurer withdrew the re-zoning request under the instructions of the library itself due to the controversy that the parking lot had caused within the community.

Now the library is in the process of selling another one of their properties; the historic brick Muir house on North Church that also was involved in the August excavation.

The library bought the property for $250,000 on July 28 and hopes to sell the house for $150,000. Maurer’s property is also being sold for $150,000.

According to Library Director Elaine Paulett, the library board was always planning on selling the Muir house.

‘We haven’t sold the property yet,’ she said. ‘We do have a few proposals though and people always indicate interest about the property.’

Along with the future plans to sell the brick property, Paulett also said the library has the option to purchase the Maurer property sometime in 2008.

‘We do not own the property yet,’ she said. ‘Right now, we’re focusing on the controversy surrounding the lot. The library will be holding public forums in the future that will deal with parking and other library issues.’

According to citizens who live in the town and around the destroyed lot, public forums and discussions are just what the library needs.

Kim Layden, president of the Boom Town Preservation Society is convinced that more parking for the library is not warranted.

‘I have yet to see that lot full,’ she said. ‘My fear is because they don’t charge for parking, the [new] lot is going to be used by people shopping downtown who don’t want to put 25 cents in the meter.’

Paulett said that the library monitors the existing parking lot in order to keep downtown shoppers from staying too long and taking up valuable spaces.

‘We would make sure that this new lot was monitored as well,’ Paulett said. ‘The library will do everything in its power to make this work.’

However, some effects brought about by the new lot cannot be monitored or fixed by public forums.

Judy Conibear, who lives beside the flattened lot, will never have the chance to save the things she loved through talks with the library – there is no bringing back the trees and wildlife that lived in the lot.

‘We had a whole ecological system here,’ Conibear said. ‘We had all kinds of wildlife. In the winter, pheasants would come up and there would be things you would never think of being in the city.’

Whether the land returns to the natural habitat it once was, or becomes the new expansion for the library’s proposed parking lot, for now it remains unused and barren, as it has been since its bulldozing seven months ago.