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Carnegie costs will only rise

Editorial

Whatever is done with the old library, it should be done soon

Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated millions to causes promoting education and culture early in the 20th century. One of his priorities was providing grant money to build and improve libraries. A &

36;20,000 Carnegie library grant helped provide Medford's citizens with years of service and beauty from our downtown library.

But the city has a new library now, and the price tag to make the old building usable and up to code is well past the &

36;20,000 mark ' estimated to fall between &

36;800,000 and &

36;1.5 million.

The fate of this historic jewel, empty now for two years, is still being debated. Finding city funds to refurbish it isn't looking likely because other projects will devour too much money before the library's number comes up.

That leaves selling an option, and one potential buyer is the Chamber of Medford/Jackson County.

The Chamber wouldn't have been our first choice for a buyer for the building, but it's probably not a bad one.

Purchase by the Chamber would keep the building in quasi-public hands, and the Chamber would be more likely than some organizations to make room for public use alongside its offices.

— Our first choice was close to the same as that of a committee that met a couple years ago to chart the future of the building: that it become a community center, with space available for a variety of public uses.

Realistically, though, Medford hasn't been able to make that happen itself or to find anyone with the resources to help the project along. Unlike with some community-supported efforts, no groundswell has developed for the Carnegie.

Whatever the choice, the sooner the better. The price for construction is climbing steadily and old buildings, like old cars, tend to have increasing problems if left sitting.

The city ought to move forward to get the Carnegie in shape and back into use, whether it is by the Chamber or by someone else.