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Board panel makes plans on libraries

The Town of Tonawanda is starting to get hold of a multitude of library-related issues -- from working out details of converting two closed branches into reading rooms to hiring a consultant to study a site of a new centralized, state-of-the-art library.

The Town Board's Library Committee agreed Monday to put the three items on the agenda for next Monday's Town Board meeting.

The Town Board will vote on paying a consulting firm $10,000 to study the location of a new library; a reuse plan submitted by the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District to turn the closed Sheridan-Parkside branch into an after-school reading room; and a resolution expressing the town's plans to use the library materials in the former Brighton Library for educational purpose.

The town this year lost three of its five branches because of the county's budget crisis.

The Brighton resolution is needed before the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library can transfer its books to the town, which will then allow them to be used in a reading room operated by the Friends of Brighton Library group. The grass-roots organization has held fund-raisers to pay for the utilities for the reading room.

Councilman John J. Flynn, chairman of the Library Committee, said the town will be able to acquire the books once the resolution is adopted but it won't be able to transfer the materials to the group until all of its legal work to become a nonprofit is completed.

"We'll then enter into an occupancy agreement with the group," he said.

Flynn said the process will be easier for the school district, as it already is an established entity. The district wants to use the former Sheridan-Parkside branch for various after-school activities, including academic intervention services, reading/writing, art and technology. He said all of the adult materials have been taken out of the former branch and sold, leaving only children's books and other publications. Flynn added that both conversions will occur next year.

County Executive Joel A. Giambra has promised the town $2.5 million to build a modern, centralized library. The consultants will study a town-owned parcel of land of Sheridan Drive to see if a feasible location for the proposed branch. Committee members acknowledged that the plans for the new library are still tentative, but they agreed to get the ball rolling while options are being considered.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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