BY ANDREW SMITH
LISTOWEL - North Perth council is further reviewing the future of an abandoned Atwood property, after the proposed new tenant has said they’re not interested.
North Perth Public Library interim CEO Julia Merritt spoke with council at their Monday, June 3 meeting, following a discussion at the North Perth Public Library Board and the offer to move the Atwood branch into the abandoned 220 Main St. building once it’s been renovated. However, Merritt said the capital costs make the move unviable.
“The library board felt that due to the pressures on library budgets now and in the future, that they would not be capable of sufficiently raising enough capital to maintain a building of that age,” Merritt said.
Coun. Paul Horn, speaking as the NPPLB chair, said the board is looking for more efficient space in the municipality, and there are a number of concerns with the building and the state it was left in.
“It’s no sign of disrespect to council in not wanting that building,” he said.
North Perth council previously passed a motion at their May 6 meeting to spend $170,000 on renovating the building to make it structurally sound, with the intent of moving the Atwood library into the larger space. Coun. Dave Ludington questioned what additional pressures the library board would be facing it the renovation was paid for by the municipality. According to Horn, the additional costs are associated with furnishings of the library, such as shelving.
“What we’ve approved as a council is to bring that building back to an empty shell,” Horn said. “It’s all the stuff that goes inside, that adds up as well.”
Mayor Julie Behrns reminded council that Perth County is currently undergoing a service delivery review, and it may be premature to be making decisions over services that may see some changes.
“We are currently going through a services review countywide, and how library service comes out in that review will be of interest not only to the library board, but North Perth council as well,” Behrns said. “I do personally believe it is too early to say what that building will be used for.”
Deputy Mayor Vince Judge requested a more detailed cost analysis of what would be included in the estimated $170,000 renovation cost, and get a better idea of what is required by the library.