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Partnership optimistic about funding

| Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2002

Members of the Chartiers Valley Partnership are waiting for several foundations to decide whether they are going to help pay for a campaign to restore the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie to its full glory.

The partnership's library advisory board plans to meet Thursday night to discuss the next move in the project, which is expected to cost more than $5 million.

The partnership, which is overseeing fund-raising for the restoration campaign announced three months ago, hired the Design Alliance architectural firm of Pittsburgh in November to devise a master plan. The century-old library sits atop a hill overlooking Carnegie's business district, and has deteriorated over the years.

Design Alliance representatives presented the master plan for the building about two weeks ago to several large foundations, including the Claude Worthington Benedum, Grable, McCune and Buhl foundations. Representatives from the foundations also toured the library.

Allen Turske, a member of the partnership, said there has been no word so far from any of the foundations, but he is optimistic.

"All the participants seemed very positive. Nothing negative came out at the meeting at all," Turske said. "I am still optimistic the campaign will work. It seems like we are going in the right direction."

At the meeting, Design Alliance asked the foundations for financial backing for a program manager, someone who would market the building and see to it that the master plan is followed, Turske said.

Design Alliance presented several recommendations to the foundations for where money is most needed. The most essential work includes refurbishing the rust brick facade for weather tightness, installing new windows, a new roof and eaves to control water runoff, and making the building handicap-accessible.

Turske estimated it would cost $5 million to $6 million to renovate the building and grounds.

Specifically, the basement bookstore rooms need waterproofing, and ramps and an elevator are needed to provide access to all parts of the building.

The heating and cooling system needs to be replaced. Also, there is no air conditioning, making the building almost unbearable on hot summer afternoons.

The Andrew Carnegie Free Library opened in May 1901 and remains fully functional.

The building houses not only the library but also a large music hall said to be acoustically perfect, a Civil War room where veterans in a Grand Army of the Republic post once met, a gymnasium and a lecture hall.

The renovation project would retain all of the furniture and fixtures that have been in place since the building opened. The work could begin next year, and extend through 2004.

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