Dayton school leaders approve preliminary plan for library at Belmont

Dayton’s school board approved a nonbinding letter of intent with the Dayton Metro Library on Tuesday, setting the stage for construction of a new library adjacent to Belmont High School.

Library officials have proposed a $10 million, 24,000 square-foot library at the corner of Wayne and Watervliet avenues, on ground that is currently a Belmont High School softball field. It would replace smaller branches on Wyoming Street and Watervliet Avenue and would combine their staffs.

The letter of intent calls for a four-month contingency period during which the library will do surveying and environmental tests on the site, and the school board will take necessary legal steps to be able to sell the land to the library.

If all of those steps are successful, the letter of intent calls for the school district to sell a 2.75 acre parcel to the library, for a price to be determined. The library would pay to build Belmont a new softball field behind the school and establish paths from the high school to the library and the new field.

School board member Hazel Rountree said she wholeheartedly supported the plan because she sees how the new northwest library has transformed her neighborhood.

“I see first-hand the benefit of having a vibrant library in the community,” Rountree said. “If you go there, you will see it has now become the heart of the community. You see very young children, you see senior citizens, you see people coming just for coffee and conversation.”

Sheila Taylor was the lone “no” vote on the letter of intent, citing concerns about traffic and the fact that DPS might have future needs on the Belmont site.

“There’s other property in that same area that they could build on,” Taylor said. “I do support the library, but I don’t think we should be giving up our prime property where we have a nice high school.”

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