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Commissioners offer support for new libraries

January 09, 2002

Commissioners offer support for new libraries



By SCOTT BUTKI
scottb@herald-mail.com


Members of the Washington County Commissioners said Tuesday they will try to help pay for branch libraries in Smithsburg and Boonsboro, as they did in Clear Spring, if town residents chip in.

"We will definitely be there for you," Commissioner Paul L. Swartz told supporters of the branch libraries.

It was too soon to say how much money might be contributed and when, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

If the county helps fund one or both branch libraries during the next six years of the Capital Improvement Program, it might be necessary to delay or cancel scheduled capital projects, Planning Director Robert Arch said.

Shoop told Washington County Free Library Director Mary Baykan that the county can't fund buildings for both branches at the same time.

Baykan asked the county to choose which branch should be built first, but Shoop said she and the library board of trustees should make that decision.

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Baykan said it was hard to choose between the two projects, but the Smithsburg library project might go first because it is further along in the process.

Public Works Director Gary Rohrer has estimated total cost for the two library buildings at $2.7 million: About $1.2 million for Smithsburg and about $1.5 million to $1.6 million for Boonsboro.

The estimates do not include land acquisition costs, Rohrer said.

The two towns have said they would pay for land acquisition, Baykan said.

The county library board has pledged $50,000 to each library branch.

The commissioners chipped in $200,000 for the 8,000-square-foot Clear Spring Library, which opened Sept. 15, 2001. That library cost about $800,000, with most of the money coming from private donations and a private endowment.

Mike Schaeffer, president of the Washington County Free Library Board of Trustees, and representatives of the Sharpsburg and Boonsboro libraries, appealed to the commissioners Tuesday.

About $200,000 in donations and pledges have been made for the Smithsburg branch, including the county library board donation, said Judith Ferro, president of the Smithsburg Library Board.

Smithsburg intends to build its new library branch in the town's Veteran's Park, she said.

Pans call for a 10,000-square-foot library in Smithsburg to replace the existing 1,086-square-foot building, Baykan said.

The Boonsboro library branch effort has about $110,000 in pledges and grants, including the county library board donation, said Boonsboro Town Councilman Richard Hawkins, who is on the Boonsboro Library Board.

Under the proposal, a new 13,787-square-foot library building in Boonsboro would replace the existing 1,713-square-foot facility, Baykan said.

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