‘Vision’ meeting planned for new library

Published 9:32 am Thursday, March 3, 2011

GATESVILLE – Do you have a vision for the planned new Gates County Public Library?

If so, an upcoming meeting is just for you.

LS3P Associates, LTD of Raleigh, the architectural firm chosen to design the new County library, will hold a Community Vision Meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, in the main court room of the Gates County Courthouse, located at 202 Court Street in Gatesville.

The purpose of the Community Vision Meeting is to have an open public forum to discuss the selected site and to hear citizen’s ideas and visions on the new County library.

Citizens are asked to limit their comments to three (3) minutes so everyone will have a chance to be heard.

If you are unable to attend you may forward your written concerns to the County Manager’s Office, Attn:  Community Vision Meeting, P O Box 148, Gatesville, NC  27938 or e-mail to dhendrix@gatescountync.gov.

The plan to build a library has fueled numerous sessions of public debate since county officials announced last year they wanted to proceed with the project. The public debate has turned passionate at times as local citizens are divided over the project. Some feel the immediate need to move the library from its current location, the now 175-year-old Gates County Courthouse. Others, citing a still struggling economy, say it’s a bad time to make such an investment. There are a few that believe public libraries are “dinosaurs” in the modern age of advanced technology.

At the time LS3P’s architectural contract was approved in October of last year, even the Gates County Board of Commissioners were spilt on the issue. They approved the contract in a 3-2 vote and a similar vote was recorded when a budget amendment in the amount of $72,650 to pay for the LS3P services was brought before the board.

The contract with LS3P is to perform the initial architectural work, which includes site selection, architectural design services, holding community workshops to see what is needed in the proposed new facility, concept design, schematic design and assistance with the USDA (loan) application process.

In another part of this ongoing story, the commissioners opted against holding a countywide referendum to judge the citizen’s reaction to investing nearly $1 million in a new library.

The public meeting, one to help determine the size and scope of the library, was promised as forthcoming when the board approved the LS3P contact five months ago.

“The size of the building, what it will look like and where it needs to be built will be determined by the architect once all the public input has been received,” said Gates County Manager Toby Chappell at the October, 2010 board meeting. “None of this has yet to be decided; nothing is yet set in stone.”

At a board meeting last May, Chappell estimated the cost of a new, 7,800 square foot library at $975,000. He added that the USDA would offer a 30-year loan at 4 percent interest (with no upfront money to the county).

The current Gates County Public Library in Gatesville remains located in the old Gates County Courthouse, one constructed in 1836. The courthouse, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, currently has several structural problems, not uncommon for a building 175 years old.

Plans to renovate the existing facility, using USDA funds, were ruled out in February of last year by a USDA engineer that visited the current library to determine the feasibility of the project. The engineer was of the opinion that it was not a prudent investment for USDA to invest in renovations to the current library.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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