Bridgeville looking at plans for new library

By Lynn R. Parks

The members of the Bridgeville Public Library board plan to vote at their next meeting whether to pursue construction of a new facility. Matt Davis, president of the board, said that the board "is probably going to" vote to approve plans for a new library in Heritage Shores, the development under construction in the newly-annexed south side of town. Allen and Rocks, developer of Heritage Shores, gave to the town about 5 acres at the northwest corner of the golfing community. That property, part of the Passwaters land that was purchased by the developer, includes three already-constructed baseball fields, which the town is leasing to the Woodbridge Little League organization, and 1.3 acres designated for the library. Joe Conaway, president of the Bridgeville Board of Commissioners, said that construction of the library will be funded by the town's sale of bonds, made possible by state legislation that passed in January and that made Heritage Shores a "special tax district." The town is authorized to sell up to $65 million in tax-exempt bonds, proceeds from which the developer will use to pay for construction of infrastructure in the 421-home development. Part of that bond sale will be for $700,000, half of the estimated $1.4 million cost of a 10,000-square foot library. The state will pay the other half of the cost. Conaway said that once construction is complete and the requirements of the bond issue are satisfied, the town would sign ownership of the library over to the board. "We do not want to be in the library business," he said. In addition, Conaway said, the town is charging a $100 library fee on each building permit issued in Heritage Shores. That money, which could amount to $421,000 in the seven years it is estimated that construction of the development will take, will go toward library operating expenses. The town is also charging a $100 fee per building permit, to go to the Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Company, and a one-quarter of 1 percent impact fee, also to go to the fire department. "Why shouldn't the people who are causing growth pay for it?" Conaway asked.
The Bridgeville Public Library is currently on Market Street, in a building that was constructed in 1869 as the First Presbyterian Church. The library was established there in 1919 by the Tuesday Night Club, a women's club that was started in 1896 at about the same time that the church folded. Davis said that the building is facing structural and plumbing problems. In addition, the 1,200-square foot building is too small to accommodate all of the library's programs. Frequently, the library's story-times are held in the parish hall of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, he said. Library director Carol Gasior added that the current building has no meeting room and has no space for computers. Gasior said that construction of a new library would be good for the town's children. The new building would be easily accessible by bike as well as by car from the already-established part of town and would be near the Little League fields, she added. As for the current library facility, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, Gasior would like to see the Bridgeville Historical Society take it over. "We don't want to see anything happen to this building," she said. Howard Hardesty, president of the historical society, said that the society would gladly take over the building. The society's museum on William Street is very crowded, he said. "We have a lot of things that we don't have room to show," he added. A larger facility would also mean that the historical society could set up a reference library, he added.

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