Deadline looms for library branch plan

November 29, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County could lose a $500,000 parcel of land a developer has offered for a Russett branch library if officials don't commit to building the branch soon, said residents who support the project.

The Build the Russett Branch Library committee wants County Executive-elect John G. Gary and the new County Council to put $5.2 million in the coming year's budget to build and furnish the library.

Next month, the committee will present to Mr. Gary and the new council 1,000 petition signatures supporting the project, said Laura Waters, a committee organizer.

County Executive Robert R. Neall included $293,000 for planning and engineering for the library in the current budget.

Russett Center Limited Partnership, the developer, first offered the parcel in 1989, said Joe Bles, a member of the county library board and the Build the Russett Branch Library committee.

If construction hasn't begun by December 1996, the developers probably will rescind their offer and use the land for something else, Ms. Waters said. To meet that deadline, the county must put the construction money in the next budget, she said.

The developer also has offered to donate some architectural work on the project, the committee members said. The new library would replace the Maryland City branch, saving the county $71,000 a year in rent.

"We're very optimistic" that the construction money will be budgeted this year, said John Newell, president of the county library board. The Russett branch library and a project to automate the county's libraries are the board's top spending priorities for the coming year, he said.

The library system must compete for county money with other proposed capital projects, such as new schools and a new jail.

The Russett library would have 14,500 square feet, making it almost four times the size of the Maryland City branch, which has 3,765 square feet. The Maryland City branch has room for about 30,000 items. The new library would house 70,000 to 80,000 items.

Committee members said the new building also would have public meeting rooms, something the Maryland City branch lacks. Residents sometimes end up using the Maryland City fire department, but first the trucks have to be moved outside to create a meeting space.

A bigger library also would help the system keep pace with the needs of West County's growing population. Russett Center Limited Partnership and other developers are building thousands of homes in the area.

To contact Build the Russett Branch Library, call Roberta Morgan at (301) 725-7366.

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