Cities urged to share one library

January 25, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

New Windsor and Union Bridge officials should settle for a library between their towns instead of each town pursuing a branch of its own, County Commissioner Donald I. Dell told the mayors last week.

While plans for another library branch in northwest Carroll are far from settled, Mr. Dell said he sought feedback from officials about placing a satellite branch in Linwood during lunch Friday at Bullock's Airport Inn restaurant in Westminster.

He invited Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. of Union Bridge, Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. of New Windsor and Lehigh Cement Co. plant manager David H. Roush to discuss the project.

"We're just trying to lay some groundwork and see how the town councils would react to having the library between two towns. That [Linwood] would be an ideal location," Mr. Dell said yesterday.

Mr. Dell would not comment on any specific interest Lehigh had in the library situation, but he said the company would help the community if it could.

Mr. Roush would not comment on Lehigh's involvement either, hTC but said the cement company owns "significant acreage" around Linwood, the proposed compromise site.

Mayor Jones said there was talk during the meeting of land and materials for the library being donated, but he did not elaborate.

The county library board of trustees has proposed buying land in the New Windsor/Union Bridge area and erecting a mini-branch -- 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 has recommended existing branches be expanded before a new branch is placed in northwest Carroll. The panel made its suggestion last month to the county commissioners for the fiscal 1995-2000 capital budget.

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

Despite the recommendation, Mayor Jones and Mayor Gullo said they would continue to fight for a branch, each favoring his own town as the site.

Mr. Dell said the mayors agreed to talk to their councils about the situation, but the battle may have just begun.

During its monthly meeting Jan. 5, New Windsor's Town Council voted unanimously to request a library there and to reject any offers to place a branch in Linwood.

"While I can appreciate the position Commissioner Dell has made, I feel that to put a library in Linwood is ridiculous," Mr. Gullo said.

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.

Mr. Gullo said the principles of the county's planning act, which mandates growth occur around incorporated areas, would be better served if services such as libraries are "centered around the municipalities as well."

"By putting a library in Linwood you may dodge the bullet of making a difficult decision, but the objectives of the planing act to deal with growth are not followed," he said.

Mr. Jones said he and the Town Council are willing to accept a compromise if that's what it takes to get a full-service library nearby for his residents.

"If we're going to have to compromise, I think Linwood would be as good as any other place," Mr. Jones said. "It's only two miles from either town, and neither town's residents would have to go that far to get to it.

"I'm willing to compromise if that's the way it's going to have to be," he said. "It would be better if we could compromise and get a full-service library between the towns than having a small one in either town."

Mr. Dell said he is interested in hearing what the councils have to say about sharing a Linwood library, but hopes they understand his position.

"They'll have to realize that they have to bite the bullet and say that this is the option," Mr. Dell said. "Is it better to have one library or no library at all?"

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