Cuyahoga County Public Library Board plans sale of South Euclid's Telling Mansion

The Telling Mansion is for sale. 
The Telling Mansion has been home to the South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library since 1952. Quoting directly from the library’s website, “Mr. Fiske (Library Board President from 1946–54) recognized the potential of the Telling mansion, knew it was for sale, and felt the unique building should be preserved for use as a public library.” 
On Oct. 30, Robert Varley, the current library president, and Sari Feldman, the library director, put Telling Mansion on the market.
Is Telling Mansion protected because it is on the National Register of Historic Places? We asked the Cleveland Restoration Society about this. The answer is "No." Telling has no protection because federal funds were never used to renovate it. 
Is Telling Mansion being sold because it is not ADA compliant? No. The library is currently considered in compliance. But the library has needed an elevator for many years. Don't you think that if the administration were genuinely concerned about people who use the building—particularly people with disabilities—they would have installed an elevator in Telling Mansion many years ago? Installing an elevator costs $400,000 vs. $12.5 million for a new building. Whatever happens to Telling Mansion, I find it offensive that the library is co-opting people with disabilities in order to force a new library on a community that does not want one. Any of us can become disabled and that won't mean that we will no longer want or need beautiful and interesting public spaces. 
Leaving Telling Mansion will cost the City of South Euclid money and jobs. Cuyahoga County Public Library recently purchased $1,333,000 worth of land on Green Road, where they want to build the new library. By doing so, they took all of that land off of the tax rolls, meaning fewer dollars for the City of South Euclid. The library administration has stated that a new facility will save money because it will need fewer workers than the current library needs. Fewer workers means fewer tax dollars for South Euclid. What is desireable about reducing the amount of revenue and jobs in the city?

The proposed new library site is farther away from the high school, bus routes and the City of Lyndhurst. And, it will rip up five acres of greenspace along Nine Mile Creek, contributing to watershed management problems, less wildlife habitat and degredation of water and air quality. If the community's well-being mattered to the library board, board members would have chosen a site that had vacant or unsightly buildings and built there—that may have contributed to the economic vitality of the neighborhood.

Now is the time to act to save Telling Mansion. If the library abandons Telling Mansion, years from now people will ask, “Why didn’t the community stop it—didn’t they care?”
What can you do to save Telling Mansion Library? The community must display a show of force. You can help by attending a public meeting on Monday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. at the South Euclid Community Center, 1370 Victory Drive, South Euclid (216-291-0771).  Please bring as many people as you can to help our community demand that Councilperson Sunny Simon and other elected officials save Telling Mansion.
Spread the word!

Fran Mentch

Fran Mentch
Cleveland Heights

Read More on Letters To The Editor
Volume 5, Issue 12, Posted 5:29 PM, 11.12.2012