County leases facility for RW library

The old Ridgeway Post Office is being renovated for the temporary library.

RIDGEWAY – During a special meeting last week, county council voted unanimously to execute a two-year lease on the old Ridgeway post office property at Palmer and Jones streets for a temporary library site in the town.

The deal includes an option to renew for another two years and possibly purchase the property. Rent would cost $850 a month the first year and $892 a month in year two.

Fairfield County Administrator Jason Taylor said at its previous location, the library had already been paying $600 a month out of its millage for operations. The county would pick up the difference, he said.

“[The property owner] wanted to go up in the other two years, and we pushed back on that,” Taylor said. “We looked at a number of locations and did determine this was the best. Others would need a lot more upfitting, or had no parking or would be much more expensive.”

When the time comes to build a permanent site, the county will consider pursuing a Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, to help pay for it.

Eric Robinson, director of the Fairfield County Library has told Council that the library board wants the permanent site to be in the town.

Ridgeway resident Moses Bell, who has announced he is running for the Ridgeway District 1 seat on county council, voiced concerns at the June 25 council meeting that the proposed temporary site is near what Bell said is a liquor store.

Bell told council members he was contacted by a woman who called him, hysterical about the temporary site at Palmer and Jones street.

“She had stated that in many municipalities, they have ordinances stating that liquor stores and bars cannot be located next to a public building,” he said. Bell did not identify those municipalities or the ordinances.

Bell said he wants a library built outside the town next to the county waste and recycle center.

Councilman Dan Ruff, who represents District 1 on county council, said the Palmer and Jones site is only temporary, noting the long-term plan is to build a permanent library elsewhere.

“We’ve looked and looked. I’ve been looking for months for a good location,” Ruff said. “This one became available.”

“We’ve been without a library for a year now,” Ruff continued. “We don’t want to wait two to four years until we can get another permanent site.”

As for the library’s surroundings, Ruff didn’t see any issues.

“Actually there’s a road and a cyclone fence before you get to the convenience store (City Gas) which has a liquor store attached,” Ruff said. “There’s also a church behind the liquor store, directly behind it. We have not had any issues with the store and I just don’t think that would be an issue.”

County administrator Jason Taylor said the county will take over the leased property on July 1, and that renovations should be completed before the start of the school year in August.

The Ridgeway branch of the Fairfield County Library closed in September 2017. It shut down after the building experienced leaks and mold issues.

On June 15, the Ridgeway Town Council considered five proposed sites for the permanent library location.

“[The county] asked us as a council to review some options that have been floating around for a while,” Ridgeway Mayor Heath Cookendorfer said.

Those sites included:

  • Old Fire Department, Palmer Street
  • Teacherage, Means Street
  • First Citizens Bank property, Palmer and East Church streets
  • Charm Parking Lot, Means and Church streets
  • Fork of U.S. 21 and S.C. 34.

Ridgeway Council members identified the Teacherage location as the preferred site, with the Charm Parking lot location as the runner-up.

The Town of Ridgeway owns the Teacherage site. Fairfield County would have to purchase the Charm Parking lot site, though Cookendorfer said that when the county leaves a location, the property typically reverts back to the town.