Escrowed Funds Will Help Meet Future Library Needs

Published 3:57 pm Thursday, March 10, 2011

FARMVILLE – Prince Edward County and the Town of Farmville cooperatively built the new Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library and now they are teaming up to sell the library's former site.

The 217 West Third Street property has been assessed at $400,000 and the one serious offer so far was reportedly for $225,000.

The property is being deeded to the Town and County by the local library board, with an agreement for proceeds from the eventual sale of the building to be put into an escrow account for the library's future capital expense needs at the new Wilck's Lake site.

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Both the Board of Supervisors and Town Council approved the concept this week and the plan has also been endorsed by the library's advisory board.

Each governing body, and the library board, will appoint two members to a joint library committee that will approve all expenditures from the escrow account.

The library's director, Peggy Epperson, hailed the plan, telling the Herald this week that she views it as a “generous offer” and “very much to the advantage of the library.”

Deeding the former library building to the Town and County will relieve the library board of the responsibility of having to sell the property and the deal, Ms. Epperson said, “ensures that the funds will be set aside for the improvement” of the library.

Both the Town and County, Ms. Epperson agreed, are better positioned to most effectively market the property. “Absolutely,” she said, adding that the two localities “know more than we ever could” about prospects who are looking for existing buildings, in addition to their inherent expertise in all local zoning requirements for the property.

Spates made a similar point to council members last week.

“They're a volunteer organization,” he said of the library's board.

Whereas the Town and County have paid professionals on staff with expertise in marketing such a building.

The new deal isn't very different than the original agreement between the localities and the library board, Spates answered when asked by a council member at the March work session.

“It really doesn't differ other than what they proposed to do was sell the building and the money would go back in to pay for expenses furnishing the library,” Spates replied.

“So it's a wording change,” council member Dr. Edward I. Gordon said.

“Yes,” the town manager explained. “Basically, now what we're saying is give us the building, let us sell it; take (that responsibility) away from them because, you know, they're a volunteer organization…they're concerned about due diligence, if they sold it too cheap people would be upset with them. Let the Town and County deal with that issue.”

“Let (the public) get upset with us,” Dr. Gordon said with a chuckle.

The original deal stated that “the current library building shall be sold and…the proceeds of that sale shall be used to purchase furniture and fixtures for the new library building.”

As it turned out, however, the furniture and fixtures were included in the construction loan for the new library.

Local officials preferred that proceeds from the sale be set aside and used over time to make capital improvements to meet the library's needs at its new site, rather than any of the money going towards operating expenses.

The new deal meets those goals.

The money from the sale of the old building will be put back into circulation as agreed-upon capital expenses arise over the years.

On Wednesday night, Spates told Town Council, “we need to actively market that building.”