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Reviewing a framing memo presented by County Administrator Joe Mareane, the Legislature’s Capital Plan Review Committee today agreed to a plan for examining the future of the Old County Library building over the next three months.

Noting that the 33,000 square foot structure is still safe and habitable, but in relatively poor repair and that there could well be “problems around the corner,” Administrator Mareane told the committee that with nearly all County archival records digitized and out of the building, and with felony drug court and family treatment court programs soon to be relocated, the Community Justice Center’s Day Reporting Program will soon be the only occupant of the building.

With potential alternatives for Day Reporting now under study, he said the County is “within reasonable distance of having a vacant building,” perhaps by sometime next year.  “To avoid the possibility of the Old Library sitting vacant for a prolonged period of time, the County has an interest in coming to a timely decision about the future of the building now,” Mareane’s memo advises.

Potential options laid out by the administrator, and which the committee agreed to examine, include retaining County ownership of the property (either improving it for re-use for County purposes or mixed uses, or demolishing it and either holding the land for future County use or leasing it to another development entity) or selling the property, either through a sale limiting the type or permissible development or through an unrestricted sale.

Over its next few meetings, the Capital committee will weigh several significant policy questions, including whether the County will need the Old Library Building or land for its own future purposes; how any re-use or redevelopment could best serve planning goals and community need; and if the County chooses not to use the property itself, whether it should sell the land and building or enter into a long-term lease.

While the committee’s study is in process, County Administration will begin the process steps County policy requires when considering potential disposition of County-owned property, which include documentation regarding significant resources involved and land use considerations; property value and tax liability; fiscal impact ; and the County Administrator’s recommendation based on those concerns.

Committee Chair Mike Lane thanked Administrator Mareane for providing the outline and framework, which he characterized as providing “a terrific start” for what will be an important decision-making process for the County.

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