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Library fund-raising to begin

March 21, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

Fund-raising efforts for a Smithsburg branch library building will begin now that the state has cleared the way for the library to be built in the town's Veterans Park, Judith Ferro, president of the Smithsburg Library Board, said Wednesday.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources last Friday approved a land swap that will make it possible to use the park site for the library.

The 27-acre park is being developed with money from Maryland's Program Open Space, which does not permit a library as a park use.

The Town of Smithsburg asked the state if it could swap two acres at the park for two acres near Smithsburg Elementary School.

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Ferro said she was told it would take six months to one year for such a request to be approved by the state.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he found out about the library's plight and contacted Natural Resources, urging them to speed up the process.

The department cleared the way in 29 days.

Ferro praised Munson for his help.

The Friends of the Smithsburg Library wanted to secure the site before doing any fund-raising, she said.

"We did not want to ask for money until we could show them a vision," she said.

Washington County has estimated at $1.6 million the cost of replacing the current 1,096-square-foot library building on East Water Street with a 10,000-square-foot building.

Ferro said she hopes the cost will be closer to $1 million.

Munson said he hopes the Washington County Board of Commissioners will now give money toward proposed branches in Smithsburg and Boonsboro.

The draft of the county's capital improvement program budget includes $200,000 each for the two branches. The Smithsburg library would get $100,000 in fiscal 2003 and 2004 and the Boonsboro library would get $100,000 in fiscal 2005 and 2006, under the budget.

The program lists the cost of replacing Boonsboro's current branch building with a 13,000-square-foot branch building at $2 million. The site of the new Boonsboro library building has not been selected, Boonsboro's mayor said Wednesday.

County Library Director Mary Baykan has said Smithsburg's new building probably would be built first because the push for that library began earlier.

The Friends group has about $200,000 in donations and pledges, including $50,000 from the Washington County Free Library, Ferro said.

The group will seek contributions from the state and federal government, she said.

Group members have talked with Clear Spring volunteers about their successful fund-raising efforts for a new library. The group will probably copy some of their events, including having a house and garden tour, Ferro said.

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.

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