Library location becomes an issue Crofton, Odenton areas competing for regional facility

September 15, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Should the county's next regional library be built in Crofton or west of there?

That is the question facing the Gary administration, library system officials and community leaders in Crofton and Odenton.

At one point, the answer seemed clear -- a regional library was to be built on county-owned land in Crofton. But, recently, community leaders from the western portion of the county and now County Executive John G. Gary have questioned that location, suggesting the Odenton Town Center might be better.

Meanwhile, the library board of trustees and some Crofton area leaders are still pushing for the 37,500-square-foot building to be built on Riedel Road on land the county purchased for that purpose in 1990. Like the Annapolis Area Library and the North County Area Library in Glen Burnie, a regional library in the western part of the county would be larger than a branch library, with more resources and services.

"Nobody has given us any basis for believing that that is not a good spot for a regional library," said John Newell, president of the board. "We've had numerous conferences with Mr. Gary, and I think we've made our view known. I really don't know where the problem would be."

But Gary last week raised concerns about a regional library, as opposed to a smaller, branch library, on the residential street.

"It seems that a regional library would make more sense in Odenton than it would in Crofton, and a community library would make more sense here," Gary said Wednesday at a meeting of the Greater Crofton Council.

He said he is concerned about the traffic that a regional library would generate on Riedel Road.

In the six years since the county purchased more than 17 acres in the 400 block of Riedel Road, about 5 of them for the library, construction funds have not been approved.

The library would cost $8.5 million to build and $639,000 in planning and engineering fees, according to Andrea D. Lewis, library spokeswoman. In its budget request in the spring, the library system did not request the money for the fiscal year that began July 1, but projected it would need the planning money in the next fiscal year, Lewis said.

A 1995 consultant's report on future library space requirements recommended replacing the Crofton branch library, in a 14,000-square-foot leased space in the Crofton Center, with a 35,280-square-foot building elsewhere. But the report did not recommend a specific location.

The report also recommended expanding the Provinces branch and closing the Odenton branch.

Calls from Odenton residents and community leaders to build the large facility closer to their community have come only recently, according to Newell.

One of those pushing for a location west of Crofton is Glenn Akers, president of Greater Odenton Improvement Association. Odenton Town Center, the proposed commercial and residential center near Routes 32 and 175, or sites in Jessup or Severn would be better locations for a library designed to serve the portion of the county that stretches as far west as Maryland City, according to Akers.

"If a western regional library is supposed to support the majority of west county, would it make sense to put it in the southeastern corner of that region?" he said. "It should be more centrally located to the region that it's supposed to support."

Akers said he will ask Gary to address the issue again Wednesday, when the county executive is to speak at the improvement association's meeting at the Odenton Volunteer Fire Hall.

But some Crofton area leaders want to make sure their community is not overlooked. The branch library there already sees the amount of activity of a regional library, but lacks the extra resources, said Laurie Torene, a member of the Crofton Civic Association board of directors.

"The funding just keeps getting postponed," Torene said. "And all of a sudden there was this discussion about whether there should be a regional library in Crofton or maybe Odenton. We want to be sure those plans don't change."

Pub Date: 9/15/96

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