The latest chapter in residents' drive for library branch

County tries to solve land, money issues


April 03, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Finksburg residents finally might get something they've wanted for years: a branch of Carroll County Public Library.

The county is poised to clear two hurdles that would make a Finksburg branch possible: land and money.

"There's a piece of property that we've identified that's acceptable to us," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell, who declined to reveal the location. The county is "waiting for a real commitment that the well and septic system would serve the library. If we find out that's positive, we can move forward."

Steven D. Powell, the county's director of management and budget, said his office is working with the commissioners to fund the library. The county has $3 million in bond funds set aside for the project, and will allocate an additional $600,000 in fiscal 2004, which begins July 1, 2003, for equipment and furniture.

The Finksburg branch is expected to open in fiscal 2004 or 2005, Powell said.

"We're further along in the funding process than we've ever been before," said Laura O'Callaghan, a proponent of the library and member of the Finksburg Planning Area Council, a citizens group that acts as a liaison to the commissioners.

For years, the council has lobbied the commissioners for a library branch to serve the 18,000 residents who live in the fast-growing Finksburg area. The library board of trustees repeatedly has asked the county to fund the project.

"It's seven to nine miles to Westminster, same to Eldersburg," O'Callaghan said. "It doesn't sound far but when you just want to drop off and pick up a book, it's a long distance - a special trip."

Two years ago, the commissioners rejected a $1.7 million proposal to build a 5,000-square-foot branch in Finksburg. The planning commission endorsed the project but the county eliminated it from the construction budget.

This time, the library board is asking for a 10,000-square-foot facility.

Library Director Linda Mielke credits Dell with the project's revival.

"He's been a leader in this project," she said. "The commissioners saw the wisdom of offering a full-service branch to fulfill the obligation out there. It gives you enough space for computers, a children's area and so on."

Besides moving forward on a Finksburg branch, the library board is looking to place a Finksburg resident on the seven-member board. The candidate will fill a position vacated by Robert Sapora.

Library spokeswoman Ann Wisner said the board interviewed four candidates and has submitted the names of two to the county commissioners for approval.

The commissioners could make a decision as soon as tomorrow, Dell said.

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