Tesson Ferry Library will permanently close next week; Grant’s View Branch to open soon

New buildings, renovations funded by 2012 tax-rate hike

By Gloria Lloyd

The Tesson Ferry Branch County Library has been a mainstay in south county since it opened in 1958 and is the oldest branch of the St. Louis County Library, but it will permanently close next week.

Library officials plan to shut down the Tesson Ferry Branch at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, to allow time to move its books to the new state-of-the-art $16 million Grant’s View Library across from Grant’s Farm in Affton, which is slated to open in early December.

In the meantime, library officials are directing Tesson Ferry patrons to obtain their books from the Oak Bend Branch at 842 S. Holmes.

Current Tesson Ferry patrons and state and local officials in Green Park mounted a fight against the move last year because they did not believe the reasons library officials gave for moving the library from the current site, including the contention in the library’s master plan that the site is riddled with “multiple sinkholes.”

Instead, organizers of the opposition group said that instead of listening to south county residents, library officials were intent on building a glass-walled “Crystal Palace” across from Grant’s Farm, no matter the cost or the loss of a beloved library location. Opponents also said library officials did not ask for public input despite earlier telling the Call that residents would be involved in the process to find a new site.

The library is building new libraries in both north and south county, and its new Lewis & Clark north county branch is on the same site as the former Lewis & Clark Branch. The library has not held any public forums in south county about the Tesson Ferry relocation, but officials held two forums at the Lewis & Clark Branch earlier this year to address why they were closing the old branch earlier than scheduled.

When Grant’s View opens, however, library officials say local library patrons will be rewarded with the latest technology and the beauty of a scenic setting across from a nationally renowned landmark.

The building features a two-story glass atrium, two community meeting rooms, new computers and a new instructional lab, a large teen space, an expanded children’s area with a program and crafts center, a community garden and a children’s garden. Construction started in September 2014 and has taken longer than officials originally planned due to various delays.

Construction on the smaller new Lewis & Clark Branch started after Grant’s View but finished earlier, and it opened in October, months ahead of schedule.

The county library system has faced opposition to all three of its proposed locations for new libraries. Architects and historians strongly opposed the new Lewis & Clark Branch because they felt the original branch was a unique architectural treasure, and the Fenton Board of Aldermen rejected rezoning for a new Meramec Valley Branch Library in 2014. All three projects are part of Proposition L, a tax-rate increase of $11 million a year voters approved in November 2012 that will fund the library’s $108 million building and expansion project to renovate or rebuild every county library.

The Weber Road Branch Library was one of the first to close earlier this year and is slated to reopen in December after a nine-month renovation, and the Cliff Cave Branch is slated to close in December for the same upgrades. The Jamestown Bluffs Branch was the first to reopen from renovations last week.

With all the library closings and reopenings, the library is paying Dodge Moving and Storage $137,500 to store books and other materials while branches are closed.

Neighbors of the new library objected to the increased traffic it would bring to their neighborhoods along Musick Avenue, even before Lindbergh Schools voters approved a bond issue to fund the new $22 million Dressel Elementary slated to open in the fall of 2017 at the other end of Musick, with a main entrance off Tesson Ferry Road. Lindbergh broke ground last month and has already demolished the old Dressel School to make way for construction.