Gray Highlands Library Board concerned over proposed land sale

Proposal to sell municipal land for parking has library worried about ability to expand in future

The Gray Highlands Library Board is concerned that the potential sale of municipal land in Markdale could hamper future expansion plans.

Library board member Stewart Halliday and CEO Jennifer Murley spoke to the Gray Highlands board about the issue at its regular June 1 meeting. Halliday and Murley voiced concerns from the library board about the possible sale of part of King Edward Park to Markdale.

The library immediately adjoins the park. Gray Highlands Council recently received an application from a private landowner to purchase part of the park.

A proposal has been put forward for 31 Walker Street to allow a micro-brewery, restaurant and apartments on the property. Municipal land would be required for parking.

Halliday, a former deputy mayor, told the council that the Walter Harris Library in Markdale will soon need to be expanded and the municipal land may be required.

“We believe the library needs to be expanded in the future and we want to work with the council on a plan,” Halliday said.

Library board chairman Kevin Land was unable to attend the meeting, but provided a detailed letter to the board outlining the board’s position.

“Keeping this area open provides planning flexibility until a community-approved concept is approved,” Land said in the letter. “We believe there are a variety of scenarios for this area that would appeal to all interested parties without sacrificing their goals and would welcome the opportunity to be part of the process.”

CEO Murley told the board that the Markdale branch is the busiest in the Gray Highlands library system and with growth of 1,000 homes expected in the future, expansion will soon be a necessity.

“We look forward to collaborating on a plan for the future of this facility,” Murley said. “The library’s vision is to focus on growing and maintaining our role as cultural leaders in the Gray Highlands. Tenure flexibility is necessary.

Com. Dane Nielsen thanked the board representatives for providing details, suggestions and feedback rather than an “outright no”.

The board received the board’s report, but made no decision.