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R.I alderman question money source for multi-million dollar library project

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ROCK ISLAND - Tonight, Rock Island alderman are questioning how the city's library board will pay for a multi-million dollar plan for the future.

The Rock Island Library board plans to buy the soon to be empty Tri-City Jewish Center and convert it to the central library. The board would shut down the nearby 30/31 branch, downsize the downtown library and keep the Southwest branch open.

"It is innovative, it is not your usual solution, we`re talking about reuse," said Russ Hodge, a consultant to the Rock Island Library foundation.

The library admits it can't pay for all the changes on its own.

"We`re going to raise larger gifts first and then go to the city and then go to the community for smaller gifts," said Hodge.

The library puts a $16 million price tag on the renovations and that doesn't include up to $20 million to buy the Tri-City Jewish Center.

"In terms of this 10, less than 20 million dollars' cash, I don`t know where we`re going to get it from," said Alderman Joshua Schipp.

Alderman Stephen Tollenaer says the money is worth it, "It`s not a ten-year loan or a 20-year loan, it`s an investment into the future of our children."

While some are optimistic the money will be raised, Alderman Dylan Parker says he's heard other concerns from Residents.

"The concern is we`re going to have a situation like Audubon, the elementary school. You know `oh it`s going to be fine, we`re going to keep it` and then 20 years down the road money is tight and we have to cut it."

It could be years before the plan becomes a reality, until then, some are looking to the future and a new chapter for the city's libraries.

"I`m looking forward to the challenge," said Alderman James Spurgetis.

The library says the new plan won't save money in the long run, though it could make some money by renting out space in the downtown library to non-profit groups.

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