Gary proposes new Crofton, Odenton libraries Plan ends competition for single regional site

December 20, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Crofton and Odenton will get new libraries in the next two years under a proposal announced Wednesday by the county executive.

The county would build a 20,000- to 25,000-square-foot library in Crofton in the 1998 fiscal year, which begins July 1, and open a 40,000-square-foot West County library in Odenton the next year, County Executive John G. Gary said Wednesday in a speech to the county's General Assembly delegation.

"That's a major coup for us," Gary said. "I wasn't sure we could do one."

Until Gary's announcement, the two communities had been pitted against each other in quest of a single large, regional library for West County. Both communities now have small branch libraries that residents say are too small to handle growing numbers of users, but Gary said several months ago that the county could not afford to build two new libraries.

Before yesterday, Crofton had the library system's endorsement. For several years, the library board had planned to build a $9.1 million, 37,500-square-foot regional library on county property on Riedel Road in Crofton.

"The library board has been in a quandary because they know the need in both communities," said 4th District Councilman Bert L. Rice, who was among a handful of officials from Odenton, Crofton and the library system who worked out the proposal. "If we can do this, both communities win."

The library board is likely to support the latest proposal, board President John Newell said.

Under the plan being considered, the county would lease space in what is now a bowling alley at the Odenton Shopping Center instead of constructing a building for the regional library. The Crofton library would be built on the Riedel Road property.

That makes two libraries affordable for the county, Gary said. The county would be building only one of them, and that would be the smaller one.

Under the plan, the shopping center owner would renovate the building and lease it to the county. How much the deal would cost the county is being discussed, said Lisa Ritter, Gary's spokeswoman.

"This is still very nebulous," she said.

Odenton and Crofton community leaders seemed pleased with the plan. For several months, Crofton residents and leaders have said their 14,000-square-foot library in leased space in a Route 3 shopping center was almost as busy as a regional library, while Odenton supporters argued that their community would be the better location because more of West County's growth is expected there.

"What we didn't want to see was Crofton lose a library, but we didn't want to lose one either," said Glenn Akers, president of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association.

Bob Scott, president of the Greater Crofton Council, said, "The center of growth is really going to be more west of us. As long as we get a substantially larger one than we have now," the community's need will be met.

Putting the regional library in an Odenton shopping center makes sense, especially with plans to revitalize the area as the Odenton Town Center, according to Jay Winer, head of the Town Center committee and one of the leaders who developed the proposal.

"It works so well because it's an integral part and central to the community that's growing around it," Winer said.

Odenton Elementary School, the O'Malley Senior Center and a planned senior housing complex are all within blocks of the proposed library site.

Pub Date: 12/20/96

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