Published by Sun Newspapers July 21, 2013.
On June 20, I had the pleasure of attending the Cleveland Public Library’s board meeting. I am still interested in the outcome of the 101-year-old Carnegie South Library at Clark and Scranton roads, a real gem built like a mini-Scottish castle with original fixtures, leaded glass windows and ornate pediments. It is temporarily closed due to an assessment of the building.
Most salient with regards to this meeting was the overall tone and atmosphere of this board. I was welcomed wholeheartedly by the board that even acknowledged my involvement with the Telling Mansion issue in South Euclid. They thanked me for taking an interest in their Carnegie library. I was never made to feel unwelcome or looked upon suspiciously for my inquires of the library and my hopes it can remain open to the public.
It could not be ignored that most of us fighting on behalf of Telling Mansion when going to the Cuyahoga County Public Library board meeting were met with a cold response and taciturn behavior. Admonishments were handed out to several people opposing the South Euclid library closing because you disagree with their plans. One person was told she was an irritant. One grouchy old CCPL board member dismissed us when trying to talk to him after one meeting.
Mr. Corrigan, board president of CPL, lamented that many people didn’t even want to temporarily close Carnegie South, but repairs were challenging and it became necessary. Mr. Corrigan assured me “total transparency” will take place, they will not do anything abrupt, and they introduced me to the person doing the library surveys in the community. Preservationists have been contacted as well. He also agreed with my concerns that this financially-challenged neighborhood would make it hard to find a suitable mix for the library should they abandon it. He stated no Carnegies have been lost under his tutelage.
Also of interest is CPL recently installed a rain garden in the Tremont library. A slide show emphasized its leadership in doing sustainable planning for watershed protection. As far as I know, nothing like this was done at the new Warrensville library with 150-plus parking spaces.
My feeling is things can be done differently as in comparison to how Telling Mansion has been handled. My question to CCPL is why did they leave the community out of the conversation, lie about the plan to restore the library, and did no proper survey? The last glance at the proposed purchase agreement had vague preservation protection for Telling. What organization, governmental group, or family never makes any compromises? Why do they get 100 percent their way? Why does everything fall on deaf ears with CCPL?
Why is CPL more attentive to real issues and CCPL is not? One board member at CPL gave me her card and encouraged conversation. She and her husband have been instrumental in saving historic buildings in Cleveland and see the importance of the issues. No one on the CCPL board would return emails to me when I politely wrote to them.
My concern for Telling Mansion and Carnegie South is when these public spaces go into private hands anything can happen. Should Telling or Carnegie be sold as a restaurant and you can’t afford it, you lose out. If they’re sold as an office space and you don’t work there, you lose out. If its made into a porcelain museum, and you don’t like that, you lose out. A library makes it available to all of us.
Lets not have Mr. Telling and Mr. Carnegie turn over in their graves. It’s important to save beautiful public space. As for Telling, it is the only nice place in South Euclid for us to enjoy.
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