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Fate of old library still is undecided

A Sheriff's Office substation could move there, but first it must be renovated.

By LOGAN D. MABE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2001


NORTHDALE -- Now that all the books and librarians have moved to a new facility on Bearss Avenue, the old Northwest Regional Library building on Premier Drive sits empty, awaiting its fate.

County officials are considering options for the building, none of which are fast or cheap.

One idea to relocate a Hillsborough Sheriff's Office substation there is on hold. Deputies will be moving elsewhere in the coming months since learning they'll need to vacate their home in the Grand Plaza office park on N Dale Mabry.

"There's a very good chance that we may be getting a spot in the library, but the renovations may be more extensive than originally thought," said Deputy Jerry Stramiello, Northdale's community resource officer. "We have to be out of here in three to four months."

Deputy county administrator Pat Bean, in a memo to County Commissioner Jim Norman, said it would cost about $959,000 to renovate the library building.

"The highest priority would be replacement of the (heating and air conditioning) system to make the building function appropriately," Bean wrote. "Additionally, the building requires renovation from library-appropriate space to a space that will accommodate public service uses and offices."

Buck Harvester, manager of the library system's real estate department, said the long-term potential for the building may be to convert it to a regional county services center that would allow various county agencies to offer satellite offices. Such agencies could include development services, building permitting, tax collector and Sheriff's Office. A similar service center is being developed in south Hillsborough County and is set to come online in 2003, Harvester said.

"We've talked with the folks in the Sheriff's Office and with several other users in Hillsborough County government to open offices in the building," Harvester said. "Before we make any commitments, we want to meet with the community itself."

That could happen as early as May. "We're in the process of putting all of these pieces together in a reasonable fashion instead of just jumping in there and deciding what should be done with the building," Harvester said. "On the other hand, we don't want it to sit vacant for a long period of time."

-- Logan D. Mabe can be reached at (813) 226-3464 or at mabe@sptimes.com

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