Foundation hits bumps on way to new library building

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The Williamston Community Library is housed in one room of the Williamston Community Center

By Justine McGuire
Williamston Post staff writer

WILLIAMSTON – Wheatfield Township trustees decided not to send a representative to form a joint building authority, putting a snag in the Williamston Community Library Foundation’s plans for a new library building.

The current plans require the City of Williamston, Williamstown Township and Wheatfield Township to form a joint building authority, then agree on the details of the building before the three municipalities can apply to put this initiative on the ballot.

Williamstown has agreed to send a representative to negotiate on the joint building authority committee. Williamston recently selected Kathleen DeForest, Mayor James DeForest’s wife, to represent the city.

Jack Helder, the foundation’s president and a resident of Wheatfield, said that the main reason Wheatfield gave for declining to send a representative was a lack of support in the community.

However, Wheatfield Treasurer Holly Miller said that lack of support was one of many reasons for the board’s decision.

Helder led 40-45 supporters as they spoke out about their support for the new building in an attempt to get the trustees to reconsider their decision at a township meeting on Tuesday, March 13.

Helder said that while most trustees listened, Trustee Roger Pallock continually challenged a speaker and was almost booed out of the room.

Julie Chrisinske, head librarian at the Williamston Community Library, said: “One comment that (the trustees) made at Wheatfield Township was that the library is only for people who have families or only for people who are poor or disadvantaged. That is not true. We help people every day from all demographics.”

Although the issue was not brought up during the rest of the meeting, Helder said: “I expect that the trustees will call another special meeting and see if there is any support now to send a representative to the committee that must agree between the three units to form a joint building authority. This is the necessary step to having a ballot on the matter.”

Miller said that there was no motion or discussion about holding a special meeting. At this time the township does not plan on reconsidering its decision.

“They would need to address some of our other concerns,” Miller said.

She was unwilling to disclose what any of the concerns are.

Chrisinske said: “The (Wheatfield) residents want a chance to have their voices be heard, they want the chance to vote on it. They don’t want (the trustees) to say ‘no we are not going to let you vote on it.’ They want the democratic process to move forward.”

She added that she will not be surprised if the township does not reconsider.

“If Wheatfield trustees continue to be negative, then we will explore interest in (Williamston) and Williamstown Township to go it alone,” Helder said.

One thought on “Foundation hits bumps on way to new library building

  1. Nicely done article, it’ll be interesting to see how this scenario plays out.