Frontenac to begin planning for new library

Jonathan Riley
Morning Sun

FRONTENAC, Kan. — Although the project is still in its early phases and few details have been decided, the City of Frontenac is planning to build a new library thanks to a gift of millions of dollars set aside for that purpose.  

“Late in 2019, we were notified that the city is the intended recipient of a large sum of money specifically earmarked to build a library,” City Administrator John Zafuta said at Monday’s city council meeting. 

The money is being provided by the family trust of the Tavella family, which has ties to Frontenac, and has been distributed in phases, with the city recently receiving the final payment. 

“In total we have about $4.5 million,” Zafuta said, “so every bit of that will be dedicated towards building a library.” 

Zafuta said the city might want to form some sort of “idea committee” to discuss how to proceed with plans for the library.  

“I don’t know anything about building libraries. We’ve kicked around a lot of ideas in the last year and a half,” Zafuta said. “What do we want to see? Where do we think we want to put it?” 

Mayor David Fornelli said an initial step could be to come up with a 90 to 120-day plan for the initial phase of the library project that the council could approve. 

The total amount the city has in its fund to build the library is $4,567,000. Zafuta said that in planning its library project, the city should keep in mind that modern libraries do more than just loan books — they provide access to technology and educational programs too. 

City council members also weighed in with their thoughts on the library project. 

Councilman Mike Snow said the idea of a brainstorming committee was a good one, and that the city should also make sure to consult with local librarians in its planning process.  

Councilwoman LaDonna Pyle suggested the city could apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to create a storm shelter at the new library. 

At this early stage of planning for its new library, little is set in stone, but if there was one thing everyone seemed to agree on at this week’s Frontenac City Council meeting, it was that the multi-million-dollar donation provides an opportunity to create a great new asset for the community. 

“We’re starting from scratch,” Zafuta said, “so the sky’s the limit on what we do here.”