Library supporters urge land donation

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By Tracy Harris

There’s a new chapter in the Goshen library story.

In December, fiscal court voted to accept a proposal from the North Oldham Lions Club to donate property to the library and county parks and recreation department. 

But now, library supporters are concerned that donation might be cut in half.

The proposal, drafted by the club and approved by its members and board, would donate “approximately six acres directly to the library,” and about 18 acres to the parks department.

The land is part of a 24-acre park donated to the NOLC in 1971. The park has become a burden on the NOLC, according to the proposal, and has become too expensive to maintain.

Library officials spent more than $5,000 surveying the land so deeds could be written, said Susan Eubank, Oldham County Public Library executive director. Planning and zoning approved the plats in early December, but right after Christmas, Eubank learned some Lions Club members wanted to scale down the donation.

Instead of six acres and what Eubank hoped would be a 15,000-square-foot library, she heard the donation might be cut to three acres.

Eubank said the library could work with just three acres, but it would be a disappointment to cut back on space for technology, children’s classes and community meeting areas.

Carol Hublar, NOLC president, read from a prepared statement when contacted by The Oldham Era last week.

Hublar said the club had made a non-binding proposal and is working on “minor details” of the agreement.

When asked if the club’s board is considering cutting the donation in half, Hublar declined to answer.

She said details are still being finalized and that she is optimistic the donation will be resolved soon.

“We’re giving a gift to the library and we think they’re going to be happy and we’re going to be happy,” she said.

Eubank said she thought those details had already been finalized when the library’s board of trustees and fiscal court both accepted the proposal and its stipulations.

Provisions included naming the library after the Belknap family, who originally donated the land, including a room of books for visually impaired readers named after the club.

The library would also need to include a community meeting room and maintain the portion of the land zoned agriculture as a passive park.

Eubank said library officials acted with reliance on the proposal.

She added that she has not received any information from the club and doesn’t know why the donation is being reconsidered.

“It’s all up in the air,” she said.

But, Eubank said, even a three acre donation would provide enough room to triple the current library’s size.

The Mahan library is so small, Eubank said, that children’s programming is minimal and there’s no room for more books or computers. 

The two-story building also isn’t accessible to individuals with disabilities.

The land donation would allow the library to expand, become more accessible and add community meeting space, which is lacking in the area, she said.

The Friends of the Oldham County Library, a non-profit that offers volunteer help to the library, published a letter on its Facebook page asking supporters to contact the NOLC and urge the organization to support the original proposal.

“Let them know how much the families in the North Oldham community want the new library,” the letter concludes.

Eubank agrees.

“This could be such a boon for the community and the area,” she said.