MUSCATINE — The future of the old Musser Public Library building remains uncertain.
During last week’s meeting, the City Council approved a resolution declaring the old library building at 304 Iowa Ave. surplus and will put the building up for public auction.
Many suggestions have been made for the usable space, including a possible new home for the Muscatine Food Pantry.
“It would take someone with the right vision to redo that space,” City Communications Manager Kevin Jenison said. “There are a lot of possibilities that that area could have.”
Historic Preservation Commission member Mark LeRette agrees. Although, the building is not part of a historic district, the group would like to see something done with it.
“We don’t want to see any buildings downtown get torn down,” he said. “We don’t endorse usage. It’s a commercial building, so we don’t have a preference on usage.”
LeRette has heard ideas for the space, including converting the building into a “crafters mall.” He said there are quite a few people in the community that create crafts and could benefit from a permanent location to sell their goods.
An issue with the old library location has been parking. The area relies on street parking, Jenison said, which isn’t as big of a concern during the day as it is at night with multiple businesses competing for parking in the area. Even though tearing the building down to create parking is a possibility, LeRette doesn’t think that would be the best option.
“There are too many applications that could be done with that building to raze it,” LeRette said.
If a buyer was interested in demolishing the building, LeRette said the commission would advocate to keep the building intact as part of the plans.
“We might go to the city and stipulate that the building be utilized in the contract — outside of that, there’s not a lot we can do,” he said.
When a prospective bidder does comes forward to purchase the building, the council will discuss the sale process and price during a meeting before approving the sale of the property.
Prior to approving the resolution, the council held a public hearing for anyone to voice their opinion on the proposed decision to declare the building as surplus and put it up for auction. There was no public comment.
The new Musser Public Library and HNI Community Center, 408 E. 2nd St., will open to the public Friday, with a grand opening celebration set for June 30.