Library renovation update
By Ellen Robbins
People frequently ask library staff about the status of the library’s plans for renovation and expansion. While there has not yet been any construction, the reality is that in the past two years, we have made considerable progress. We have a signed contract with our architect. We were successful in acquiring Capital Grant Funding through the State. The City Council also approved borrowing to complete the project through the State Infrastructure Loan Program. Schematic design is in progress, and a site survey and an engineering study were completed in 2018.
Library staff have worked hard to weed collections and prepare for moving materials out of our 64 year-old building. And library patrons continue to express enthusiasm for the Library project.
Inevitably, development and engineering questions come to light in the examination of a built environment, and indeed light was shed by the 2018 engineering report. The engineers concluded that the City needed a new flood plain delineation study to determine if the current flood wall (which was planned to be incorporated into the expanded library building) was adequate. While a flood plain study was done in 2002, hydrology improved significantly in the ensuing 16 years, and it made sense to conduct the new study.
As the saying goes, measure twice and cut once. A preliminary report was concluded in August of 2018 and submitted to the County’s Department of Permitting Services for review. Based on the conclusions of the new flood plain study, it was determined that a higher elevation for the Library would be required. The architect has submitted design options for a library building that would meet the elevation criteria based on the new information, but would preserve the same footprint. The new design options are all predicated on constructing a new library building on the existing site, as an alternative to changing the parking lot elevation relative to the Library, which we understand would be a significantly costlier option.
The flood plain study is important in advancing the City’s goals in other ways. The effect of climate change on the water table, as well as the flood plain, makes the recent delineation study a foresighted and practical necessity as the City plans the future purposes and locations of its facilities.
Immediate next steps for the library renovation project include consideration of the new concept designs. Because they don’t depend on modification of antiquated systems or constraints in the deployment of existing resources they offer new opportunities to imaginatively recreate and enliven existing space.
We are eager for things to progress now that we know what we need to do in response to the flood plain study. We look forward to sharing new information as it becomes available and to continued public discussion as the library project continues.
The architect will make a presentation to the City Council on March 20.
This article appeared in the March 2019 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.