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Library board moves for change

Staff Writer

As the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie nears its centennial next year, an upcoming court hearing could radically change the structure under which the facility enters its second century.

A petition filed by the library's Board of Trustees in Allegheny County Orphans Court seeks to establish a new board structure.

Under the trust agreement overseen by Andrew Carnegie and established in 1899, the library board is made up of 10 life trustees and seven ex-officio trustees, which includes the mayor and all six members of council.

The trustees motion to amend the trust, which was established in 1899, will be heard by Judge Walter Little Tuesday, June 6, at 10:30 a.m. in the 1700 Frick Building, downtown.

If the Orphans Court approves the trustees' petition, the number of ex-officio trustees, made up of Carnegie council members and the mayor, will be reduced from seven to three.

The end result would be a 12-member board, down from 17. The term trustees would serve a maximum of two three-year terms.

Glenn Walsh, the only trustee to oppose the petition, has tendered a resignation, effective the day life trustees are dissolved. Walsh would not comment on why he opposes the reorganization.

Allen Turske, member of a library advisory board, says the petition is only one part of a bigger plan to obtain $5 million in funding to rehabilitate the cash-strapped library.

He says consultants advised his board, Chartiers Valley Partnership Inc., to form a corporation to procure grants.

The partnership was formed in 1998 to restore the library as a fully functional and accessible library and cultural center.

It is comprised of eight member organizations in Carnegie Borough including the library, the borough, Carnegie Area Revitalization Effort, Chartiers Valley Arts Council, Chartiers Valley Industrial and Commercial Development Authority, Historical Society of Carnegie and 9th Pennsylvania Reserves Civil War re-enactment group.

"Joining together these groups who have had a lot of friction in the past, that's a big accomplishment," Turske said.

The partnership obtained a grant to pay for a consulting firm, Community Technical Assistance Center, which has outlined a three-point plan to direct the library to raise funding.

Those plans include partnership, dropping life trusteeship and gather necessary information to make adequate grant requests.

"Basically, life trustees are seen as a non-vibrant board of directors and need to have new blood on the board," Turske said. "One of the problems of the life-trusteeship was they could never get a quorum."

Bob Heinrich, Carnegie mayor, agrees.

He says council has is committed to numerous borough meetings, many of which conflict with the library meetings. He also said if the court grants the request in the petition, the library board will have less trouble getting a quorum.

One point in the petition states that the borough may withhold its annual $25,000 contribution if the trust is not reorganized. Heinrich said the provision was put in the petition by the partnership to persuade the judge to rule in their favor.

The borough has given the contribution to the library for the last three years. Heinrich says if services, such as lawn mowing and snow plowing, were included as part of the borough's contribution the annual total might be closer to $40,000.

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