Library planned for Chatt. Hills

Mon, 09/24/2007 - 8:45am
By: Ben Nelms

Library planned for Chatt. Hills

The impressive community-sponsored library at Rico Cultural Center may get a facelift of gigantic proportions. Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library System Director John Szabo told Chattahoochee Hill Country residents Sept. 17 of tentative plans to construct a 25,000 square-foot library somewhere in the new city. The library is one of several being considered for south Fulton.

The library system’s overall plan currently under development includes construction of 10 new libraries and the renovation of 27 others throughout the system. Szabo said the proposals stem from a master plan that began in 2006 and studied the needs of all areas across Fulton County. The projects would likely be financed through a $121 million bond issue collected after a successful ballot initiative and with countywide ad valorem funding if approved by Fulton County commissioners in early 2008. If approved by voters later in 2008, the construction projects might begin in 2010 or 2011. Prior to that lengthy process, the library system will conduct a total of 37 public meetings with a projected completion date in time to present the findings to the library board in December, Szabo said. Study recommendations will also include all pertinent information such as project pricing, targeted locations around Fulton County and phased timetables for construction and renovation.

“This is a big plan with a big price tag,” Szabo said.

Back in Chattahoochee Hill Country, a 25,000 square-foot library, the largest available for a branch library, would be one of only two facilities of that size proposed. Szabo said the library, along with the other large library proposed for extreme north Fulton, would both serve much larger geographical areas than the smaller proposed facilities. The large size also takes into account anticipated development over the next 20-30 years in both areas. The library in Chatt Hills would essentially serve nearly most all of the large land mass included in the new city, portions of Palmetto and that of the fast-growing areas of westernmost unincorporated south Fulton.

Szabo said an initial consideration, and one that would cost less, would be to locate the library on land already owned by Fulton County. Such land is available in the Friendship Village area, along South Fulton Parkway in the vicinity of Cascade Palmetto Road and Cochran Mill Road. Some attending the meeting felt the community would be better served if a library was placed in another location. A representative of Minerva Properties, developer of Friendship village, told residents the company wanted to library placed wherever the community felt it would be best utilized.

Referring to the meeting as a listening session, Szabo said questions and comments from each of the public meetings will be recorded and used in the final decision-making process for consideration and review by the library board. Comments from the nearly 40 people in attendance in Rico ranged from suggestions of having two smaller libraries, the geographic placement of the library and acreage requirements to constructing an expandable facility, providing space for a local archives and building a library for Palmetto.

Szabo also had comments for the community-sponsored, all volunteer Rico Library that opened last year. Starting from scratch with no books and virtually no funds, Judy Henderson and other community volunteers turned an empty room into a showcase. Those efforts also include an ongoing variety of classes and instructional programs.

“This library is fabulous. There’s nothing like it in Fulton County,” Szabo said with a smile. “This has been a wonderful project and we don’t want to lose the flavor of what’s happened here.”

Aside from renovating some libraries, the plan calls for new libraries to be built in the Old National, Red Oak and Wolf Creek areas of south Fulton. The library at Old National is proposed at 7,500 square feet while the Red Oak facility is proposed at 5,000 square feet and Wolf Creek at 10,000 square feet. All new and renovated facilities would be full-service libraries, Szabo said, and would be operated from the library system’s county budget.

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