Community locals gathered at the New River Branch Library to learn of Pasco County’s plans to renovate the building’s interior and exterior.
The April 25 meeting was also an opportunity for the public to voice any questions, concerns or ideas regarding the project.
The library is one of seven branches that will undergo makeovers with funding provided by a general obligation bond overwhelmingly supported by Pasco County voters in November 2018.
The New River library is situated at 34043 State Road 54, which is near the border of Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills.
Much of the planning for the improvements was based on feedback received from library patrons, said Angelo Liranzo, regional branch manager for New River and the Hugh Embry Library in Dade City.
Those attending the community meeting saw aerial-view drawings of the library — which will be reconfigured but not expanded.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is working along with the county to fulfill the project.
A second entry will be added with a right-turn lane for motorists who are heading west on Old State Road 54.
The entrance will lead to the existing parking lot and will have signage to direct drivers.
Guests inquired about a possible way to turn left onto Old State Road 54 when exiting the library. At present, only right turns can be made when leaving the premises.
“We were hoping for a left-hand turn median, [but] we don’t see that in FDOT’s plans right now,” the branch manager responded.
However, he encouraged the group to take the issue up with county officials.
Linda Harris was relieved when plans were mentioned to incorporate more seating between the parking lot and the entrance.
“My friend is physically challenged and she has a hard time getting from her car all the way into the building,” the Zephyrhills resident said.
She explained that with additional seating, her friend can stop to rest, if needed.
There also are plans to add a book drop-off site in the parking lot, making it more convenient to return books.
A sidewalk also will be added, leading from the parking lot to the library’s community garden on the building’s east side.
This will provide easy access to the garden for those with limited mobility, Liranzo said.
Within the garden, an outdoor classroom will be built and shaded by an aluminum roof.
Alexandra Kotzeva is receptive to the plan. The Wesley Chapel resident volunteers at the library after school hours.
“I’m really glad to hear that the outdoor class(room) is going to be a thing now,” the 17-year-old said.
Attendees also expressed interest when they learned that the outdoor classroom would also serve as a stage for live performances and seminars, and also be equipped with proper lighting.
When a question was raised about security, Liranzo noted that lighting and surveillance cameras around the library’s outer perimeter is a possibility.
Cameras may be placed inside as well, especially at the entrance, he added.
Plans also call for seating in the front lobby, to encourage a social atmosphere, and there will be an art gallery.
The existing meeting room, to the immediate left, also will be enlarged by moving the rear wall back several feet. That room will also have new lighting, that can be dimmed or brightened, depending on the nature of the activity.
In response to a question about the children’s room, Liranzo said that the area will be larger and will be designed as an activities area.
It will feature a variety of amenities for the children, and will be walled off by a glass window so kids can still be supervised from the adult room.
As the largest area in the library, the adult room will be open to all, with computer stations, as well as a reading and seating area.
There will be three new study rooms by patron request and a room for young adults.
Also, there will be new restrooms.
“There will be self-checkout,” Liranzo added. “We’re trying to create more self-service opportunities for people who just want to do something quick, and go.”
These book stations will be located at the front desk and in various areas of the library.
However, he noted, library staff will still be available to help patrons requiring assistance.
New River will be closed during construction, which is set to begin in October, and is expected to take six months to complete.
Staff will be working with community partners to provide library services at other locations.
Published May 08, 2019