Library planned for Long Point Mall put on indefinite hold Branch is indirect victim of state's financial crisis PASADENA

January 08, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

For want of enough books, a new library planned for the Long Point Mall on Mountain Road will not open in June as originally planned.

The county has purchased only a quarter of the branch's planned 40,000-book collection, and may not have the money to buy the rest, Library Director Ed Hall said.

"The biggest job in opening a library is buying a collection," Mr. Hall said. "You don't just walk into a book store and buy a collection."

Especially for this branch, with books at an average of $14 each, the collection will cost more than renovations necessary to open the library. The county had planned to lease four storefronts at a strip shopping center at the Lake Shore Drive intersection, Mr. Hall said.

The library -- with a budget of $1.1 million -- is one of 20 construction projects totaling $6.2 million in jeopardy, said Greg Nourse, a county budget analyst.

County Executive Robert R. Neall may need the money to pay the social security costs of teachers and librarians -- costs that until this fall were picked up by the state. To balance its own budget, the state passed those costs on to Baltimore and the counties.

Mr. Neall put the library and other projects on indefinite hold Dec. 23, as he and his budget office attempted to find money to pay those social security taxes, which total $15 million, Mr. Nourse said. The County Council approved Mr. Neall's plan last week, he said.

News of the library's delay disappointed some Pasadena residents. Many, including members of the Chesapeake Women's Club, have lobbied for eight years to bring a library to lower Mountain Road, arguing that the Riviera Beach and Severna Park branches were too far away.

Last spring, Mr. Neall said the county could not afford to build a library but would lease space in the Long Point Mall. The storefront branch, he promised, would be open this year.

"I'm confused," said Carol Coccia, who served on a Neall-appointed panel that recommended leasing space at the mall until a regional library could be built. "We were told there already was money in the budget for this sort of temporary fix. Now, there isn't any?"

Mrs. Coccia, an 18-year resident of Lake Shore Drive, said she was disappointed, but maintained her sense of humor. "I guess we just all have to get out and play Keno," she said, referring to the new state lottery game.

Plans for the library have not necessarily been scrapped, Mr. Nourse said. If the state comptroller reports this spring that income and sales tax revenues for the past year are higher than expected, the rest of the book collection could be bought and the library opened, he said.

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