Proposed Robert Crown Library

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City Council voted to extend the contract of the professional fundraiser hired to assist the City in raising private donations for a new Robert Crown Center. The revised contract now runs an additional three months through September 2017 and adds $97,500 for a total cost of about $700,000.

 Marty Lyons, the City’s Chief Financial Officer, announced that the fundraising efforts have netted total commitments of about $4.1 million, with a matching grant of $5 million. No official plans for the new Crown Center have been released yet – plans are expected within the next four to six weeks – creating a type of “chicken or the egg” quandary. It is hard to raise funds without having plans showing the new Center the City plans to build, but at the same time it is difficult to know what to include in the plans when the City does not yet know how much money will be available from fundraising.

The cost of a new Robert Crown is expected to be approximately $30 million.

The consultant, Community Counselling Services Co. LLC, is working with the Friends of Robert Crown, a not-for-profit foundation formed for the purpose of supporting the new Center.

“How much” of the $9.1 million has been raised by CCS, “and how much from the Friends?” asked Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward.

“It is a joint effort,” explained Mr. Lyons. “They work as a team.” CCS may identify donors, bring people together who know each other at times, make introductions at other times. “We do not have a database that says, ‘This one we got, this one CCS got.’”

As for reaching the overall private fundraising goal, Mr. Lyons said, “We still have concerns about getting to $18 million, but we have other ideas” about how to fund the project without having to resort to general obligation bonds.

A full funding report will be coming in July. Perhaps a full set of plans showing the new Robert Crown Center will be available at that time.

What is known for now is that the proposed Center will include a new, 6,000 square foot branch public library, which would establish a branch on the west and south end of town. The building will move to the corner of Dodge Avenue and Main Street, shifting west by about a block. Plans are expected to include two full sheets of ice as opposed to 1.5 sheets in the current center.