City, library sign cultural center agreement


JASPER — The Jasper Public Library and Jasper Community Arts Commission are ready to move forward with the Jasper Cultural Center.

The library board approved Thursday an interlocal agreement with the city and the language of a contract with private developer City Properties of Louisville for final design work and construction documents. Under the contracts, the city, via the Jasper Community Arts Commission, will hold the contract with City Properties.

The interlocal agreement between the library board and city will ensure that the library gets equal say in decisions during the project, despite not holding the contract with City Properties, and that the cost is shared appropriately.

The interlocal agreement puts into writing the agreements between the city and library board regarding the project.

“I think the process worked,” Library Board President Dean Vonderheide said of working out the contracts. “Now we will have something to work with.”

The Jasper Cultural Center will unite the Jasper Public Library and Jasper Community Arts Commission into a single building at the Hoosier Desk site, located at the corner of Third Avenue and Mill Street.

The total cost of the project, to be split between the Jasper Community Arts Commission and Jasper Public Library, is $12 million. Funds from the Jasper LEADs fundraising campaign will help offset the cost. That campaign continues to receive donations. Most recently, Hoosier Hills Credit Union pledged $30,000 to the campaign over three years.

Now that the contracts are in place, the working group — which consists of Vonderheide, Library Director Christine Golden, Arts Director Kyle Rupert, Arts Commission President Mike Jones, City Attorney Renee Kabrick and representatives from City Properties­ — will get together to review the schematics drawn prior to the library’s referendum last November. Then, final designs will be drawn and construction documents will be written. Golden expects all of that paperwork to be done in time for the group to seek bids for construction in early 2018.

Although no public input sessions on the final design of the building are planned, Golden said she’d like to see some happen.

“We want to give the citizens of Jasper — and not just of Jasper but of the county — what they want for the best price,” Golden said.

While the final designs and construction documents are being written, Golden said the group would like to begin deconstruction of the current Hoosier Desk building. That project will have to go to bid.

Golden emphasized that the group wants to deconstruct, not demolish the building. Some of the materials in the building are in good enough shape to be repurposed in the Cultural Center for aesthetics or sold to offset the cost of the project.

The Library Board is also looking for someone interested in developing the boiler room of the Hoosier Desk property. In the concept drawings for the Cultural Center, the area was marked for some kind of private development such as a restaurant. The library and Jasper Community Arts Commission have no plans to use the space, and if no one shows any interest before demolition, the room will come down. Anyone interested in seeing the space can contact Golden for a tour at 812-482-2712.

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