Northwest towns vie for library

January 06, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Despite the County Planning Commission's recommendation that county commissioners postpone plans to put a new branch library in the northwest, New Windsor and Union Bridge officials said they will continue to fight for one.

They agree the area needs a library, but don't agree on a site, both favoring their own town.

"My position is that I think Union Bridge does warrant its own library," Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. said.

He said his town has been working for its own library for five years. "We were told we would be placed at the top of the list, but it seems we have shot back down again because they want to expand other places like Eldersburg."

New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. said of the planning commission's decision not to support a proposed modular branch, "This is exactly what I had hoped would happen."

He said he would rather see a library in the soon-to-be-vacant New Windsor Middle School building, which he wants converted into a community center.

"When they were talking about a modular structure, I wasn't happy about it possibly going in New Windsor," he said. "I wanted the library to be part of the community center. . . . Unfortunately the funding for the library would happen before the building was available."

The library board had proposed purchasing land in the New Windsor/Union Bridge area and the next year erecting a minibranch -- a modular unit that would be 4,200 square feet and could display as many as 30,000 books -- at a cost of about $1.7 million.

But the County Planning Commission made a recommendation last month to the county commissioners for the fiscal 1995-2000 capital budget that existing branches be expanded before a new branch is placed in northwest Carroll.

In its recommendations, the panel suggests that $10,000 be set aside for the new branch in fiscal 1998 and that about $578,800 be allotted the next fiscal year.

Louis J. Pecoraro, county planning commission chairman, acknowledged last month that a New Windsor/Union Bridge branch probably will be needed, but said it should be a brick-and-mortar structure, not a modular unit.

Mr. Gullo agrees. He said the commission's recommendation advances his plan to remodel the old school building to house a library, town offices, a post office, shops and other services that would create a "hub."

"I say, fine, don't build a modular one now. There is no need. There will be a greater need in the town as we start to grow," Mr. Gullo said. "Then we will put it into a brick-and-mortar structure, in a historic building that will be the center of the community."

The mayors agree that a proposed area library should not be placed in Linwood, an idea once considered by the county commissioners and the library board. But they do not agree on a site.

"Right now, my status is that Union Bridge ought to have the library because we were promised one first, and we have been working on it for five years," Mr. Jones said, adding that a library in town would be used to the fullest extent.

"We have several day-care mothers in town that take those kids to the Westminster or Taneytown library once a week just to spend half a day in the library," he said.

"I don't think we need to spend five or six hundred thousand dollars on it, but we should have something here," he said. "There are enough buildings right here in town that could be rented for a whole lot cheaper than what they were talking about spending to put one in Linwood."

Said Mr. Gullo, "The library board is very concerned about a site war, but you need to look at the availability and need.

"I have a town that will grow in size to be larger than Union Bridge," he said, referring to developments being built. "We need a hub, a central place for people in town."

Mr. Gullo also said the New Windsor location would suit Union Bridge residents, too, because they have to go through New Windsor to go to Westminster's library anyway.

How about a compromise?

Mayor Jones said: "There's a rumor floating around that I would support the library going in New Windsor, but that's [untrue]. . . . we're going to keep on fighting to get one in our town."

Mr. Gullo said, "I think either town would choose to have the branch in Linwood as opposed to the other town, but, like Union Bridge, we believe the library should go in our town."

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