Thursday, February 25, 2021

Library branch may feature new coffee shop

Those visiting the Sumpter Township annex of the Belleville Public Library might soon be able to enjoy a coffee or sandwich with their reading.

Deputy Treasurer Toni Clark presented a plan to the members of the board of trustees during a workshop session earlier this month which would allow food trucks at the library site in the township.

The trucks would provide a convenience for library visitors, she said, but would also provide a portion of the revenue generated at the library site to be used for outreach programs for seniors and children.  She said that she had also found available grants which could help the library fund programs in the community.

Clark's suggestion that the funding could be used to provide internet access outside the library prompted township Clerk Esther Hurst to explain that such access was already available. 

“People can sit in their cars in the lot at the library and get internet access,” Hurst said. She added that she was in favor of the food truck plan “as long as it doesn't cost the township any money.” She asked what percentage of the food truck revenue would go to the library to fund outreach community activities. 

Clark said that the library would be in charge and that the township would not be involved in aspects of the funding.

Hurst said that was the most effective way to handle Clark's proposal because, “I don't think we should do the library's job.” 

Supervisor Tim Bowman asked if anyone had actually done research on the amount of money this type of event generates.

Clark said the trucks had been the center of two fundraisers at Belleville High School and were enormously popular. She said the trucks ran out of food during the first event and were nearly overwhelmed during the second. She said she believed the school had “made a lot of money” from the fundraisers and thought it was about “10 percent of the food truck profits.”

Clark added that the food trucks are popular especially during the pandemic when people can't get to restaurants and said they would attract people to the area.

Trustee Matt Oddy said he hoped the library would consider the idea and reminded the board that the township leases the property to the library and that the library “has full control over what happens there.” 

Trustees agreed that Clark should refer the possible grant information and the food truck plan to library officials.

Trustee Don LaPorte said he commended Clark and her husband, Treasurer Jim Clark, for the research and the idea.

“Anything we can do for more community involvement, for seniors and children,” he said. “This is positive thinking in the right direction.”