| Aug 02, 2007

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Feature Article - August 2, 2007

What happened to the Ompah library expansion?

In February of this year, a small group of people in Ompah, including myself, having long ago agreed that our library was ridiculously small, put together a physical and financial plan to expand it. Anyone who has visited our well-used little facility will recognize that it’s the size of a generous bathroom. We quickly realized that there was a political element to the process as well, so we gathered signatures on a petition and letters of support from the local community. I am writing this progress report today because I feel some embarrassment about our performance so far. The ”we” I am referring to is the “Ompah Library Expansion Committee”, and our story follows:


The present library is 225 square feet. Our plan was to tear this building down and build a 600-square-foot space on the same location, for under $70,000. The new space would have double the shelving, plus a sitting area facing to the south. There are a number of funding alternatives we explored, and it looked possible that it might even be done at little or no cost to the township. The library building is owned by the Township of North Frontenac, so we dutifully talked with several councillors and the township employee responsible for buildings. We were told not to talk to the library in Kingston (KFPL) until council had heard a representation from us. Our March 8 presentation to council was described as a “compelling case” by Mayor Maguire, and then we heard about the township’s plan to review all its buildings. It seems that we timed this just when a period of uncertainty and upheaval is happening with all municipally-owned structures.

The Kingston library board was surprised that we hadn’t contacted them earlier, and invited us to make a presentation, which Marily Seitz and I did at their June 27 meeting. The problem the KFPL Board is faced with is how best to serve a small, scattered population in “the north”, and their feeling is that three libraries (Cloyne, Plevna, and Ompah) are too many. The Plevna building is closed indefinitely due to mould problems, so our Ompah space is doing double duty. The board may have been considering closing the Ompah library in the future; however, they now have a delegation suggesting a new, larger space, and not really asking for any help in doing so.

When I first learned of the township’s review of its building assets, I thought this could put a significant hold on any plans of the Ompah Library Expansion Committee. The township has formed a committee which has yet to meet for the first time.

So, to all you people who signed a petition or wrote a letter in support of a larger Ompah library, I offer this short explanation of why nothing has happened. We will continue working with the township and the KFPL Board, but I remain frustrated at how difficult it is to do something which is so apparently simple.

- John Inglis, co-chair (with Marily Seitz)

Ompah Library Expansion Committee

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