Dowagiac District Library accepts ownership of building

Published 9:44 am Friday, March 15, 2019

DOWAGIAC — At the Monday meeting of the Dowagiac City Council, the council adopted a resolution to authorize the Purchase and Sale Agreement and Quit Claim Deed for the transfer of the city of Dowagiac owned library building and land to the Dowagiac District Library.

The resolution was the official decision to give ownership of the library building to the DDL, which had leased the building for the last two decades.

On Tuesday, city and library officials met to sign the documents that finalized the transfer of ownership.

The resolution follows a millage passed in November 2018 to renovate and expand the library. As plans and designs have been made for the building projects, it will be necessary moving forward for the district library, that does not operate under the umbrella of the city, to have ownership of the building.

“We have a library board that is very excited about updating the building. It’s something they have been saving for since before I was director in anticipation to make plans. Passing the millage means those plans can go forward,” Weston said.

According to city manager Kevin Anderson and DDL director Matt Weston, the city had retained ownership of the building since 2004 when the library was reinstated as a district library, and DDL has leased the building every year. Since 2004, the DDL has gradually acquired various other property rights and currently owns six lots.

With ownership over the building and the other lots, the library will undergo construction in stages. The first stage, according to Weston, will be an expansion off the back of the existing building. The next stage will be indoor renovations, and eventually the façade will be restored to the original Carnegie version.

The stage by stage reconstruction of the building will allow the library to stay open and continue regular operations. By the end of construction, the library will have doubled its space to include meeting rooms, among other updated amenities and facilities.

The updates and expansion are timely for the library. Although physical materials and collections at the library have decreased, visitation to the library has increased. The meeting rooms, in particular, will be a valuable asset for the community because the library has become a common meeting place, according to Weston.

“Over time, the library space itself has been used much more as meeting and gathering spot, but we don’t even have a meeting room here,” Weston said.

For Weston, passing the millage and taking ownership of the library building were two of many next steps in the life of DDL. The library board has saved funds year after year for a renovation and restoration project.

Having ownership of the building is itself a point of security for the ongoing plans.

“We can feel confident going forward with construction plans knowing that there won’t be any problems with what we’re doing because it’s our property,” Weston said.