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Plans advancing to replace aging Ragged Edge Library

February 23, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

As Pennsylvania cut funding last year, the Franklin County Library System cut hours of operation, including those at the Ragged Edge Library in Guilford Township.

The future of library funding in the state will be debated by the General Assembly again this year, but the county library system has decided to go ahead with plans to raise $2.5 million for a 17,000-square-foot library to replace the one at 35 Ragged Edge Road.

"We have been facing crisis problems with the space in the Ragged Edge building," said Bernice Crouse, executive director of the county library system. "When you open the front door, you almost feel like things are going to fall out."

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The lot of the 46-year-old, 3,000-square-foot library is too small for an expansion project, but the Guilford Township Board of Supervisors solved that by donating 3.1 acres of land it owns just west of its municipal building, Supervisor Greg Cook said.

The library will be on a new road, Ragged Edge Road South, and there will be a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 30 and Ragged Edge Road to improve access, Cook said during the announcement at the township offices.

"We were on board from the first moment because we realize the value of a public library to the community and our children," Cook said.

The township's sewer and water authorities also agreed to waive $6,000 in connection fees, he said.

With the value of the donated land, the market value of the existing library, two large bequests and other donations, about $685,000 of the $2.5 million is in hand. The goal is to raise the balance within the next 18 to 24 months, she said.

Groundbreaking on the project could begin toward the end of this year. Crouse said the new library could be open in the summer of 2005.

The new library will have a "family place" with a children's activity center, a community room with a kitchenette and seating for about 80 people, a large lobby, a computer training area, temporary housing for the library system's administrative offices and a service center for the Bookmobile, according to plans outlined at Friday's meeting.

The architectural firm is Newcomer Associates, and the contractor is Brechbill & Helman, both of Chambersburg.

Norm Bigham of AMRON Unlimited, the consulting firm coordinating the fund-raising campaign, said there are naming opportunities for large contributors. The opportunity to name the library is open to any individual, company or group donating $500,000.

Naming rights on the lobby are available for a $250,000 gift and a benefactor with $200,000 can name the family place.

The current library and its bookmobile serve about 47,000 residents in Guilford, Greene and Quincy townships and other parts of the county, Crouse said.

Service at Ragged Edge and other libraries in the system has been reduced due to a 35 percent cut in library funding from the state.

"Anytime you look at what makes the quality of life in a community, some of the things people look at are education, cultural opportunities and libraries," State Rep. Pat Fleagle, R-Franklin, said at the event.

Franklin County Commissioner Cheryl Plummer said the new library is necessary in a rapidly changing world of gathering, organizing and disseminating information.

For more information about the capital campaign, call Crouse at 717-709-0282, ext. 212, or send e-mail to her at bdcrouse@fcls.org.

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