Town library forwards expansion plans
Plans for a new and expanded Shepherdstown Public Library building topped the agenda at the Shepherdstown Town Council meeting Tuesday.
In an attempt to improve service, the Shepherdstown Public Library wants to expand into a new facility at the 4.5-acre former Shepherdstown refuse dump behind the Elmwood Cemetery off W.Va. 480.
Library Director Hali Taylor and board President Elizabeth Wheeler wrote in a several-page proposal presented to the Council that “this is an opportunity where we can all come together and do something truly visionary and timely for our circumstances.”
Taylor said Wednesday that U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito has encouraged the Board to apply for money by Feb. 18 to meet the deadline for a 2010 federal appropriations bill. No construction cost has been disclosed, but Taylor said the grant application will include projected costs.
Library officials are hoping to clean up the old, currently vacant dump site. Taylor said an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contaminant study was done in the past, noting additional studies may be necessary to clear the site for construction. Another challenge with the proposed site is the lack of a designated road right-of-way for access, Taylor said.
The lot would boast a “green” library, using state-of-the-art technology and conservation methods. Possibilities for the landscape design include native species planting, walking trails and ample parking.
About 66 percent of the households in Jefferson County use public libraries. The population is estimated at 53,000 residents.
The current site – in the historic, town-owned Market House building on King Street – serves about a third of the county’s library-going population. According to the construction proposal, the library should be about 11,000 square feet. To meet serve the estimated 2020 county population, a building would need to be 15,700 square feet.
The current 2,000-square-foot Shepherdstown Public Library has just 1,400 square feet of usable space.
“We are just really slammed,” Taylor said of the existing downtown site, which has no designated parking lot for patrons. “It’s too many for this building.”
This portion of the population is known to utilize all three public libraries located around the county. These patrons hold a shared library card that allows this simultaneous use.
“The Old Market House could certainly remain an extension of the Library, and could potentially be used for any number of library functions,” Taylor and Wheeler wrote in their proposal.
“That would be ideal,” Taylor said Wednesday. “I think people would really respond to that.”
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The Council also discussed the next step in planning for a new Shepherdstown Town Hall at the current 104 N. King St. site. The Building commission has been collaborating with Singletary Rueda Architects to implement a concrete plan for constructing the building, which will have two floors.
In January, the Council approved a detailed fee proposal totaling $88,400. This month, the Council has approved a Building Program, which outlines and defines the spaces needed for each vital function within Shepherdstown. The two main functions are being labeled as Police and Town Hall.
The improved building will house a front office, squad room, police chief office, and more for use by the Police Department with offices for Public Works, the Mayor, and the Billing Clerk. The new building will also have a large meeting room and a break room.
“I think it’s a pretty good assessment of our needs,” said Mayor Jim Auxer. The Police Department would be located on the ground floor for accessibility purposes, while most other functions will be on the second floor.
The current debate surrounding the planning of the building is whether to demolish the existing building, or somehow utilize it for the new one. The Building committee and Town Council, as of now, are undecided regarding this issue.
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The construction on German Street for the Streetscape Improvement Project is advancing. “Well, we’ve picked up speed,” asserted project Manager John Brady, reporting to the Council. Construction is finished at the intersection of Church and German streets.
Streetscape workers plan to begin working on the south side of German Street next week.
Overall, Brady added that the team is “feeling better about meeting the ultimate target date, [hopefully] we will have luck in the weather.” The tentative completion date is still set for June 20.
The Shepherdstown Farmers Market begins its 18th season in Shepherdstown on April 5. The market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday from April 5 to Dec. 20, excluding Easter Sunday, in which case the Market will take place that Saturday. The location is behind the Public Library.