New River Branch Library was feeling its age after more than nearly 30 years of service to patrons in Zephyrhills and Wesley Chapel.
But soon, New River will be like new again.
Construction on major renovations and an expanded community garden is on schedule for a fall 2020 completion.
“We’re moving forward on it. The (coronavirus) pandemic has not slowed down construction,” said Bob Harrison, marketing program manager for the Pasco County Libraries.
All seven county libraries are slated for “a complete re-imagining from top to bottom,” Harrison said. Funding for the renovations is from the GO, or General Obligation, bonds approved by voters in November 2018.
Centennial Park Branch Library in Holiday also is in the process of being renovated.
When the New River renovation is finished, patrons can enjoy a new look, as well as upgrades in technology, high-efficiency air conditioning, teen and youth adult areas, faster Internet speeds, a covered walkway entry and a makerspace that opens into a shaded “classroom” for the community garden.
Harrison said the covered walkway and garden space will allow for “do-it-yourself” activities. It also can be used to host gardening programs delivered by master gardeners or Pasco County Extension agents.
During the COVID-19 shutdown, the original garden died off, but Judy Curran is ready to dig and plant anew when New River opens in the fall.
Curran, the library’s youth services provider, said the new garden will be larger and will have more activities.
A garden that had about six raised beds will expand to about 26 beds, Curran said. About half will be for workshops and demonstrations. The rest will be open to people who want to grow flowers or vegetables.
“It’s really kind of neat that the library team gave us this opportunity,” she said. “I’m hoping to expand some of my outdoor activities.”
A new employee assigned to community outreach will aid in organizing events.
Curran made the first plantings in 2014 when employees were encouraged to pick a special project to adopt. They could spend 10% of their work hours to make it happen.
Curran got enthusiastic responses as soon as she posted her idea on the library bulletin board. The garden beds soon sprouted with help from a dozen youth and adult volunteers.
New River’s garden was unique not only in Pasco County, but in Florida, as well. Curran said she even received a call from Chicago asking about the library’s garden.
The Land O’ Lakes Branch Library has since planted a community garden, too.
A project to plant fruit trees at New River is expected to continue.
And, a new children’s activity, Story Walk, will allow children to follow a winding path where they will stop at stations and read pages from a storybook.
“I think it’s going to bring even more people when we reopen,” Curran said. “This little idea I had has really expanded.”
For information on New River and video on renovations, visit Facebook.com/newriverlibrary.
Published June 03, 2020