If the Powell Library can secure a $10 million grant to remodel and expand its facility, the City of Powell will contribute $10,000 toward the cause. The council unanimously offered the “good …
If the Powell Library can secure a $10 million grant to remodel and expand its facility, the City of Powell will contribute $10,000 toward the cause. The council unanimously offered the “good faith pledge” on Sept. 18, supporting the Park County Library Board’s efforts to secure state funding for the project.
The board is applying for a grant through the Wyoming Library Multi-Purpose Community Facility Program. A total of $12.6 million is available “to construct or improve libraries that provide public access to the internet for purposes including work, education and health monitoring.” Powell Library boosters — who’ve long wanted to expand and update the library for the growing Powell community — hope to win the bulk of those dollars.
The city council is backing the application with a letter of support, a new, 99-year lease for the city-owned land that hosts the library and the $10,000 pledge, which is contingent on the grant coming through.
“So [for] a $10,000 investment, we could get a $10 million library,” Councilman Steve Lensegrav said before the vote.
“That’s a pretty good deal,” Park County Library Board Vice Chairman Geoff Baumann agreed, though he said it’s possible the city could be asked for more funding in the future.
The board and the Park County Library Foundation hired an architect in 2021 to design an expansion, but library leaders recently decided to start over.
Baumann said some original plans were projected to cost around $15 million, but “we said no, so they backed off considerably.”
When the new firm, Johnston Architects, visited the Powell Library earlier this month, they were told that “we’re kind of working with a ceiling of $10 million,” Baumann said. “So that’s kind of what they’re working with.”
If the library receives state funding, the city’s pledge would be put toward furnishings.
“The library building has been a center of civic activity since its construction, but has long since outgrown the available space,” Mayor John Wetzel wrote in the city’s letter of partnership, mentioning the library’s importance to Powell’s “economic and social development.”
The library board has already submitted a draft grant application, with a final version due Oct. 9. Because the funding stems from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), they’ll need to explain how the library expansion addresses “a critical need that resulted from or was made apparent or exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
State library officials have indicated that it may not make a final decision on the grants until the end of the year.
“I hope we get the grant,” Lensegrav said. “That’d be great.”
While the city has drafted a new lease for the library’s East Third Street location, City Attorney Sandee Kitchen said she’s waiting to hear back from the Park County government, which owns and operates the Powell Library.