Dr. James A. and Lorna Will Donate Large Gift for Columbus Public Library Parking Lot in 2013

Dr. James A. and Lorna Will have shown their dedication to the City of Columbus and the Columbus Public Library with a generous gift of $10,000 to go toward the much anticipated library parking lot project.

In May the library’s request for funding the parking lot project was denied by the City Council on the basis that the project should have been included in the 2013 City budget and could not be added halfway through the fiscal year. With plans to follow City protocol and add the project to their 2014 budget request, the library’s Board of Trustees let the matter rest after that May Council meeting.

Library Board member Lorna Will was not content to lose the opportunity to create a safer parking situation for the library in 2013, however. Identifying a $10,000 gap in the funding required to do the project this year, Lorna and her husband James took it upon themselves to fill that gap. Their gift was presented to the library on Friday, July 19.

With this gift, the library is moving forward with plans for the parking lot. Representatives of the library will attend the City Council meeting on Monday, August 5 to help usher the project forward.

The Wills’ donation comes on the heels of City Administrator Patrick Vander Sanden’s budget preview for the City Council that predicted another challenging budget season for Columbus. Library Board of Trustees President Peter Kaland notes, “By building the parking lot in 2013, with the help of Lorna and James’ gift, the library won’t have to request the additional parking lot funding in what looks like another tight fiscal year in 2014.”

With the addition of the parking lot in 2013 in the works, the library is turning its sights to the area that will connect the lot with the main building entrance on James Street. For 2014 it is considering plans for the city’s first Wi-Fi garden, an outdoor seating area that allows people to make use of the library’s free wireless service without stepping foot in the library itself. The garden area can also be used for family snack times and may incorporate an aspect of outdoor play for little ones.

As for now, Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser, the library’s Youth Services Director couldn’t be happier. “This parking lot adds peace of mind for families visiting the library. Not having to get kids out of the car on Hwy 16/60 means we’re that much more accessible for library lovers of all ages and abilities.”

Lorna Will has been an on-again-off-again member of the Library Board of Trustees for many decades, since the 1970’s. According to Cindy Fesemyer, Library Director, “Lorna and Jim’s donation means there will be no more winters without a library parking lot in Columbus. Plus, their timing was perfect. Assuming the lot plans move forward without too many hitches, there should be just enough time to build the lot before the first snowfall.”