Wheels of Fayetteville's library expansion begin turning


Photographs by David Gottschalk

Cruze Kirk, 4, pushes his mother, Katie, in one of the swinging chairs Monday on the rooftop patio and garden area at Fayetteville Public Library. The library is currently in its preliminary design phase for expansion onto property next door.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Library officials have a grasp on what the public wants inside the expansion and now just need to figure out what it'll look like.

Members of the library's board, foundation, fundraising arm and staff, along with city officials, gathered Monday in the Walker Room to kick off the library's expansion. Stephan Bellairs with architecture firm Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle reviewed developments of the expansion process and previewed what's to come.

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In previous public input sessions, residents expressed a desire for a number of features. A dedicated area for genealogy and local and state history research made the top of the list. The size of the library's youth services division should also double, patrons said. Other additions included a maker space for entrepreneurs, more meeting and collaboration spaces, a multipurpose venue that could seat about 700 people and expanding parking by about 200 spaces.

Voters last year approved a millage increase to help pay for the library's $49 million expansion. The bond issue will generate about $26.9 million toward the project with an additional $22 million or so coming from private donations.

The library will double in size to about 160,000 square feet. A lengthy court battle ended in March that resulted in the library being able to buy the old City Hospital land just to the south for $2 million from Washington Regional Medical Center.

Bellairs showed several ways in which the expansion could reach into the adjacent land with different layout schemes. As far as what it'll look like from outside, the library's current, mostly brick facade will be considered but all materials will be on the table, Bellairs said.

"We're covering the entire gamut of ways to do this," he said.

Construction should begin in February 2019 and take at least a year. Lots has to be done before then, such as touring other state-of-the-art libraries, holding public input sessions, demolishing the old buildings at the expansion site and finalizing the expansion's design.

Public meetings have been tentatively scheduled for Nov. 13-15. The designers will work on the schematics from November to January and design development should take place from February to May next year.

Well-known lawyer Jim Blair, for whom the library is named, said he has confidence in the library's leadership to not only deliver what was promised during the millage campaign but to bring even more.

"If that's not true when it's over, come see me," he said.

NW News on 09/12/2017

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