Howard County officials ceremonially broke ground on a $30 million Charles E. Miller Library and Historical Center in Ellicott City Monday before a crowd of more than 100 people. Construction is to begin in earnest this spring and the building is to be finished by December, 2011.
The long-planned, 63,000-square-foot, two-story, stone, glass and metal "green" building is to rise in a cornfield behind the current 23,000-square-foot library, which dates from 1962, in the 9400 block Frederick Road.
"It's an important long-term investment, making space for our children," said Howard County executive Ken Ulman, a Democrat. "We think it's important to make progress, even in tough times."
Proceeding with the project could also produce savings in the form of lower prices from hungry contractors, said Courtney Watson, chairwoman of the county council, who represents Ellicott City.
The library project received bipartisan political support. Republican state Dels. Gail H. Bates and Warren E. Miller, who represent the area, were present at the 10 a.m. groundbreaking, along with a group of Democrats.
"We have come a long way from the bookmobile," recalled Watson. Her library access as a child in a more rural, sparsely populated county was an old truck outfitted with books that visited various parts of the county. Now Howard has six library branches.
The current Ellicott City branch is the county's oldest and smallest building.