Upper Providence: No funding for MUPFL New Building in 2013
According to a source close to the matter, I just heard that Upper Providence did not include any funding next year last night for the Media Upper Providence Free Library (MUPFL) building project. Last night was their final meeting of 2013, so it’s unclear how their 2013 budget will change before the end of the year.
Fran Shields, the Chair of the MUPFL Board of Directors, approached the Media Borough Finance committee (Chaired by myself, Kent Davidson), earlier this year and outlined a financial plan which would have Media and Upper Providence fund $1.2 million of the proposed $2.5 million project, with the remaining funds to be raised from a state grant for $0.5 million and individual donors.
In its 2013 budget, Media Borough has a line item of $200,000 to be allocated to the library building project – subject to approval at next Thursday’s legislative meeting. Our discussions in the Media Borough Finance Committee about the Library refresh project were about how to include the remainder of the requested funds in the 2014 budget, and including the larger amount along with additional borough projects which would require additional capital. In short, the Finance committee was supportive of making the funds available over a 2 or 3 year period in order to support the Library. The 2013 funds we to be approved next week would be contingent on the project moving forward, and discussions at last Media Borough Council workshop included a legal agreement in place with the Library, or terms of the funding with the Library. At this point, it’s unclear what the state of the project will be.
So, it is somewhat of a blow to the project’s chances of success that Upper Providence has no funding in their budget for this project next year. MUPFL has applied for a state grant called a “Keystone Grant” for up to $0.5 million which has the requirement that the Library show that the project is at least 50% funded. With no commitment from Upper Providence, that money may now be at risk as well.
I’m unclear of the reasons for Upper Providence’s unwillingness to commit but my understanding is that they have recently acquired significant debt with the acquisition of the Mineral Hill property, and adding additional debt is financially difficult. On the other hand, the addition of 50 homes in “The Woods” development on Kirk Lane provides a significant amount of transfer tax revenue and real estate tax revenue.
I strongly support the library project and believe it reflects the values of what Media and Upper Providence need: A local library for families to meet with beautiful aesthetics, common meeting room spaces for community groups, and improved parking over what we have today. Our current library is good, but is sorely needing structural changes, and is degrading rapidly. When you see the beautiful architectural work and the vision of the new building, it’s hard not to get excited by such a landmark in Media, and one which I believe will attract more residents to Upper Providence and Media alike.
I will try to post updates as I hear them. If you live in Upper Providence and are a supporter of the library, I would make an effort to communicate support for finding a solution before the end of the year. I will be reaching out to our neighbors in Upper Providence to see if there’s a way to make this project happen next year.