Cuyahoga County Public Library system suffers from too much money?

Sadly, the Cuyahoga County Public Library system is suffering from too much money.What other explanation can there be for their proposal?

When I heard that the South Euclid-Lyndhurst public library was going to spend $12.6 million to build a new library, it did not sound like a particularly good idea to me.

But, in order to be fair and to gather the facts about the issue, I called and spoke with Sari Feldman, the director of the Cuyahoga County Library, to get further details.  I also checked on the Library’s web site and read the report about the costs to make necessary repairs to the current library buildings-the Telling mansion, cottage and carriage house. These buildings are on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

Ms. Feldman explained that it will cost $12.6 million for the new building as opposed to $5 million to upgrade the current library, carriage house and cottage. The needed repairs for these 3 buildings are described, in detail with photographs, in the report written by Bostwick Design, available on the library web site. You will find nothing shocking there.  The $5million includes all necessary repairs to all 3 buildings: addition of an elevator, increased ADA compliance, increased parking (currently there are 59 spaces), window replacement, etc.

Homeowners already pay $77 a year for the library in taxes per $100,000 valuation of their property. How much more will they have to pay in taxes in the future for a new building that costs $7.6 million MORE than upgrading the unique and gorgeous library they already have?

When I talked to a friend of mine about the proposed new library building and the Cuyahoga County Library’s Facilities Master Plan” he said “this sounds like legacy building to me”. Maybe some people deserve legacies, perhaps Ms. Feldman is one of those people, I honestly don’t know.  

Actually, I’m not sure this whole thing is legacy building, but I am very sure building a new library is solving a problem that is not there.

In reality it will be creating more problems: loss of jobs and loss of greenspace and increased storm water management problems.

I was told that the proposed building will require less staff than the current building, which has a complicated floor plan necessitating more workers.  

Additionally, the proposed location is across from  Green Road; building there will destroy greenspace and cause watershed problems along the vulnerable banks of Nine Mile Creek. This is the exact same geographic area where we all spent $1.2 million in 2008 to construct the Langerdale Basin in order to manage flooding. We spent $1.2 million to prevent flooding, now we will spend $12.6 million on a project that will encourage flooding in the same area.

If you would like to express your opinion on this issue, Ms. Feldman can be reached during work hours at 216.749.9490; she does not have voicemail. If you want to leave a message, you must call her assistant’s phone, 216-749-9483.  And, please don’t forget to let the Library Board members know how you feel about this important issue. They can be reached via email at the following addresses:




Robert W. Varley



Vice President

Maria L. Haller




Edward H. Blakemore




Susan M. Adams



Leonard M. Calabrese




Edna Fuentes-Casiano



Dale D. Powers




We all come to our own conclusions as we try to make sense of the world. My conclusion is that the Cuyahoga County Public Library wants to abandon a beautiful and historic building that will cost them less than half the amount of money ($5mil) to fix up as it will to build a new one ($12.6 mil) because they suffer from that dreaded disease—too much money!

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Jeff Hess July 06, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Good morning Fran, Thank you for doing the research. I use the current South Euclid library three or four times a week and I know about a lot of the negatives involved in maintaining a historic building. My initial reaction was that the library ought not to be involved in funneling library monies to maintaining a historic site, but the difference between $5 million and $12.6 million is staggering. Unless there are other costs/savings involved the system isn't talking about, then clearly staying put is what is best for the county taxpayers. Do all you can to make today a good day, Jeff
Garry Kanter July 06, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Remember way back in the day when young girls would try to catch German Measles from other girls? (I think that's what it was, how would I know?) Does that work with this dread Too Much Money disease? 'Cause I could use me some of that.
Fran Mentch July 06, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Thanks Jeff and Garry, I hope everyone reads the Bostwick report carefully to see what the repairs are that are needed. Many are for the cottage and carriage house, not the library. Those of us who have owned old houses know the problems they have---but this list does not look bad to me. No major structural or mechanical issues. Anyone out there own a house that does not need constant maintenance? I hope someone who knows lots about building repair will add their comments here.
Emily Jones July 06, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Green Rd is a great location for the South Euclid - Lyndhurst library. Their current library is architecturally appealing but impracticable for patron users. There is limited parking and the layout of the library is less than ideal. A new library that will be used by old and young alike is not a "disease - too much money"! I look forward to taking my family to the new Green Road Library, soon!
Carla July 10, 2012 at 08:51 PM
As much as I love old buildings, I would love to see a more ADA-friendly building [so my mom can finally use the library close to where I live!]. The Cleveland Heights library and the County's new library in Warrensville Heights are great examples of welcoming, bright libraries that are accessible. I'm also not convinced that renovating the existing space would make it as lovely as a brand new building could be. Whenever I walk into the South Euclid library, I'm always disappointed by the interior. Looking at the Bostwick report you linked and all the work that needs to be done, the total cost of renovations would be 10.6 million, not 5.6 million. I'm betting that's just to make things compliant, not to transform it into a vision of rich woodwork and elegant interior rooms. As for the location... I don't want to see our green space paved over, but I'm not sure where else the library could go.
Fran Mentch July 10, 2012 at 09:42 PM
The cost of $5 million came directly from the library director, Sari Feldman.
Richard Hollis July 10, 2012 at 09:55 PM
What will become of that beautiful building if they build a new library. Wal-Mart, CVS, Taco Bell? This idea must have come from the same people who want to "repurpose" the CH-UH schools.
Hallie Rich July 11, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Sari Feldman added information about the Cuyahoga County Public Library South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch in a new blog post: http://clevelandheights.patch.com/blog_posts/saving-money-through-efficient-building-design Also, Richard, the current South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch is owned by CCPL, so it will be sold to a buyer that will have to respect its place on the National Register of Historic Places.


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