Wednesday, May 29, 2013

South Euclid's Telling Mansion May Become a Museum

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2013 at 9:18 AM

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Controversy has been swirling in South Euclid, given the Cuyahoga County Public Library system's plan to sell Telling Mansion and invest $12.6 million in a new, state-of-the-art library over on Green Road.

If it seems like a simple transaction, it's not.

Telling Mansion, 4645 Mayfield Road, has served as a community library since 1952. Around that time, board members decided that the building was best suited to serve as a library "in perpetuity." Plans to sell the property have brought in Ancora Group chairman Richard Barone with an offer of $755,000 to host an American porcelain art museum in the building.

A meeting at the library last night authorized the beginning of the negotiation process with Barone.

But over the past few weeks, a group of dedicated area citizens has taken the library system's board to task for failing to adequately publicize the plans to sell the mansion. They sought a temporary restraining order against the library system two weeks ago, which Judge Tim McCormick shot down.

A change.org petition has garnered more than 2,000 signatures thus far in support of maintaining the mansion's stature as a public library.

"This building belongs to the public," Fran Mentch says. She's leading the ad hoc group that is working as "torchbearers" of the original library board's intent for the building. "It is our building and it belongs to future generations."

Sari Feldman, executive director of the county library system, however, contends that the best use of public dollars is to invest them into a new building. Though renovation of Telling Mansion property's three buildings clocks in around $5 million (and the new library will cost about $12.6 million), Feldman explains that the mansion's demand for increased personnel makes its future a cost-prohibitive one.

"We will do whatever we can through sale to protect that building," Feldman says, though she notes that there's little in the way of legal restrictions that can be applied to any transaction.

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