tampabay.com

West Gate library to open next month

By JACKIE RIPLEY
Published April 6, 2007


Come May 1, patrons of West Gate Regional Library will have their own space again, if only temporarily.

That's when the library's interim site on W Waters Avenue opens for business.

"It will have everything the old one had: computers, a tutoring room, periodicals, our book sale room, and, of course, books," said Jean Ann Kennedy, president of the Friends of West Gate Regional Library.

The temporary library is less than a block east of Anderson Road at 5455 W Waters Ave.

Carting a library full of books, magazines and recordings nearly 3 miles to a former bank building on Waters Avenue was necessary because major renovations on the library are slated to start later this month. Demolition of the old library is tentatively scheduled to start April 15. Construction should take about 14 months.

Civic leaders hope that when the new library opens it will be under a new name, perhaps the Town 'N Country Regional Library.

"There seemed to be community support" for the name change, Kennedy said. "We wanted it to be more identifiable with Town 'N Country." The County Commission approval's would be required.

Friends of the Library, meanwhile, have been busy retrieving items from the old library to give away as mementos. Some, like a large outdoor fountain that was in the building's atrium, will be stored for the new library.

The new library will have 28,000-square-feet of space and be at the heart of a so-called town center. Improved roads will surround the new center, which also will include a senior center, a Head Start facility and a 4-acre park.

The $8.6-million library overhaul is part of a Town 'N Country Community Plan that the county adopted in 2003. The plan calls for a pedestrian-friendly downtown at Paula and Ambassador drives that mixes homes with retail sections.

Town 'N Country leaders also have decided on a name for the town center: Town 'N Country Commons.