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Kaysville leaders put off demolition of old library building, for now

By Tim Vandenack - | Sep 3, 2021

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner

The exterior of the old library in Kaysville, which was used in the past to store the collection of the Kaysville-Fruit Heights Museum of History and Art, is pictured Dec. 29, 2020. It's also a possible future home for the entity.

KAYSVILLE — The old Kaysville library building, focus of demolition talk, has a reprieve, at least for now.

With the Utah Department of Transportation working on plans to revamp Main Street, Mayor Katie Witt, notably, had proposed razing the 77-year-old structure to make way for a public gathering spot and to open up more parking space. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places but has sat largely vacant and unused, unsuitable for occupation due to structural issues, according to a 2018 engineering report.

“We either have to put the money into it or put it out of its misery,” Witt said. The future of the old building at 44 Main St. in Kaysville’s core commercial area has been the focus of on-and-off debate for years.

Many tout the building as central in the city’s history, and after an outcry from the public, officials reached consensus at a Kaysville City Council meeting on Thursday to put off demolition, for the time being. The building, finished in 1944, has a distinctive stone exterior and had originally served as a municipal building and health center for Kaysville before being turned into a library.

“We’ve saved the building, for the time being,” said Judy Rigby, a member of the Kaysville-Fruit Heights Museum of History and Art and a proponent of saving the structure. “Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!”

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner

The exterior of the old library in Kaysville, which was used in the past to store the collection of the Kaysville-Fruit Heights Museum of History and Art, is pictured Dec. 29, 2020. It's also a possible future home for the entity.

Witt, whose term ends next January, said the issue will likely be a priority for the next slate of city officials. She isn’t seeking reelection in municipal elections that culminate in November. Key in the efforts, which will involve City Councilperson John Adams and museum representatives, among others, will be pinpointing potential sources of money to rehab the building.

Earlier studies have indicated the cost of renovating the building at $2 million, according to Witt, extra money the city doesn’t have. Whatever the case, Rigby senses a will in the city to preserve it.

“It needs work. It needs money. But it’s definitely not a building that needs to be torn down,” she said. “I think that there’s enough people in Kaysville that support the building and would miss it when it’s gone that we could get support.”

An online Change.org petition to save the library had garnered nearly 900 signatures as of Friday afternoon. Margaret Brough, a building proponent, cited its age and distinctive features for the community support the structure has received.

“This is probably the oldest building that Kaysville has that’s of any significance. It’s part of our heritage,” Brough said.

Rigby said museum proponents will have 18 months to look into the issue and come up with a potential plan to rehab the structure.

Whatever the case, the structure has issues. It sits next door to the Kaysville Municipal Center, the home to most city functions and the focus of a $4.8 million upgrade finished last year. The current city hall structure has a stone facade, like the old library next door.

The lack of a roof overhang allows water to run down the face of the stone exterior of the old library, “infiltrating the mortar joints and permeating the walls,” the 2018 engineering report noted. “Many areas of loose rock were observed.”

Moreover, the report said, the building has “little capacity” to withstand an earthquake.

“Due to the extensive deficiencies and associated required retrofit, it is recommended that serious consideration be given to demolition of this structure and construction of a new facility,” reads the report by ESI Engineering of Salt Lake City.

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