Library, sought for a decade, about to be built New facility planned at mall

November 19, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

A decade-long drive to open a library on Mountain Road in Pasadena appeared to be on the verge of success last May when it was included in the capital budget as the County Council prepared for a final vote.

But at the last minute, the library was cut, enraging Councilman Carl G. "Dutch" Holland and disappointing local residents.

Now, the library is back. On Monday night, the County Council approved a $450,000 request for funding to renovate four storefronts in the Long Point Mall that will house the 9,000-square-foot Mountain Road Library.

Work will begin soon. Library officials hope to open the county's newest branch in April 1994.

"It's been a long, hard battle, and the people in the area certainly have supported this project over the years," Mr. Holland said.

For the members of the Chesapeake Women's Club, who would not let the push for the library die, this week's news is especially sweet.

"It's been a long time coming," said women's club president Marian Sue Fortner.

The members have long believed the eastern end of the Mountain Road corridor needs its own library. The nearby Chesapeake school complex houses more than 3,000 students rTC and the nearest library is 10 miles away in Riviera Beach.

"We started about 10 years ago with a petition," she said, battling a perception that there were not enough people and not enough interest in that part of the county to merit their own branch library.

But club members eventually collected 4,500 signatures, "and that's when eyes were opened," Ms. Fortner said.

The news in May that they'd have to wait for the library dampened some spirits, but after working for so long, nobody was ready to give up.

"I told everyone, 'It's been nine years, we're not going to quit now,' " Ms. Fortner said. "We just kept after our dream, our goal."

After all, how could the council deny children a library? "I think they came to their senses," Ms. Fortner said.

Mountain Road will be the county's third library in leased shopping center space, after branches in Crofton and Maryland City, said acting associate library administrator David C. Marshall.

The new branch will start with 55,000 volumes and eight librarians. It will include much of the high-tech equipment in other county libraries, including periodicals on CD-ROM (a compact disc that stores information), computerized catalog and an IBM-486 computer for general use.

Library officials had to scale back construction materials a bit, eliminating some accouterments from the building's exterior, because the funding approved by the council was about $184,000 less than the original request.

The county will have spent about $1.6 million to construct the library when the project is done. Operating expenses of $425,000 per year have been budgeted.

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