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Library given go-ahead to grow

By EILEEN SCHULTE, Times Staff Writer
Published January 10, 2008


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SAFETY HARBOR - Last year, nearly 178,000 people crammed into the Safety Harbor Public Library to check out a book, do research on the Internet or just read quietly.

But because the facility has only 15,000 square feet of space, many patrons felt squeezed and uncomfortable.

So residents in Safety Harbor and surrounding cities may be pleased to learn that this week, the City Commission approved a site plan for the facility's $4-million expansion.

"It's a hub in Safety Harbor's downtown," said Mary Brown, executive director of the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative. "Overall, it lends itself to community support."

The decision comes on the heels of the recent grand opening of Oldsmar's new $5-million public library.

In the planning stages for four years, the project is expected to take about 14 months. A start date will likely be determined in less than two weeks when the commission meets again. The library will remain open during construction.

Designed by Long and Associates, a Tampa firm, the two one-story additions to the existing north and south portions of the building will add 9,200 square feet to the library. The south end will be built to support a second story if the city decides to construct one in the future.

The project also includes adding 11 on-site parking spaces, bringing the total to 56.

The commission approved the site plan with the exception of four designated parking spots planned on Second Avenue N in order to preserve several oak trees.

The existing interior will be gutted and remodeled. Additions will include:

-A teen area.

-A children's story hour room.

-A large meeting room that can be divided into two rooms if necessary.

-New study rooms.

-A conference room.

-A business resource area.

-A larger bookstore run by the Friends of the Library.

- A covered drive-up book drop

- A cafe-style rotunda featuring the newest releases and comfortable seating area, possibly with a coffee cart

"I would hope that the commission and the city could get as excited about it as they do about their green space because this is green space for the mind," said library director Lana Bullian.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

FAST FACTS: 

Safety Harbor Public Library expansion

- After construction, it will be about 24,000 square feet.

- It will have 56 parking spaces.

- It will have a Barnes & Noble atmosphere.

- It will have a covered book drop.

[Last modified January 9, 2008, 22:24:09]


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