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Library plans changed

new facility to be built in Boonsboro

December 27, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

The director of the Washington County Free Library said plans to build a new library between Boonsboro and Keedysville have been scrapped due to concerns from residents of that area.

Instead, the planned new library of about 12,000 square feet will be built somewhere in Boonsboro, director Mary Baykan said. It will be more than 10 times larger than that town's existing 800-square-foot library.

In October, The Herald-Mail newspapers reported on Baykan's wish list for the future: Expanding the central library in Hagerstown and building two new libraries, one in Smithsburg and another between Keedysville and Boonsboro. Her hope was all of the work would happen within the next five years.

But some Keedysville and Boonsboro residents criticized the idea. The Sharpsburg Town Council even sent a letter to the library board indicating opposition to it. They were concerned that replacing two regional libraries with a larger one would harm the communities, Baykan said.

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Keedysville doesn't have a library, making do with a "reading station," a collection of books at the town's municipal building, Baykan said.

After meeting with some area residents, Baykan and library board members decided to build the new library in Boonsboro and continue maintaining the Keedysville reading station, Baykan said. The meeting was arranged by Del. Chris Shank, R-Washington.

Keedysville Mayor Lee Brandenburg said he is glad the plans changed.

"We don't want to lose our community libraries," he said. If a library were built between the towns, someone would have to drive children there, he said. Right now residents can walk or drive to the reading station, he said.

Keedysville Assistant Mayor Matt Hull wrote a letter, published in The Herald-Mail on Sunday, criticizing the idea of replacing the Keedysville library with a southern Washington County library and calling on residents to voice their opinions on the issue. He also said he is glad Baykan is committed to continuing the Keedysville reading station.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. said the Boonsboro Town Council never commented on the plan because they didn't think it was realistic.

"We didn't think it would come to fruition," he said.

But the council is pleased to be getting a much larger library, he said.

Rather than being frustrated by the change in plans, Baykan said she and the board members are pleased the community is so concerned about its libraries.

"They value their community libraries. I am delighted," Baykan said.

Since the library won't be built any time soon, the change won't be a problem for planning purposes, she said.

"The plans are very fluid at this point," she said.

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