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Library site 'dumped' into consideration

February 10, 2009|By By RICHARD F. BELISLEELISLE

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- Members of the Shepherdstown Town Council on Tuesday got a glimpse of a proposal that could move the Shepherdstown Public Library to a four-acre tract of town-owned land behind Elmwood Cemetery, once the site of a dump.

The council members gave initial blessings to the plan, but with reservations.

Librarian Hali Taylor said after the meeting that the project, which would not be completed for about five years, could cost as much as $11 million.

Mayor Jim Auxer said local developer Kenneth Lowe expressed interest in the land until he learned what was under it. 

"The town has never been able to find a use for it or the resources to make it safe to use," Auxer said.

He said he liked the plan and encouraged the library board to "go forward."

One study showed that the layer of refuse dumped on the site over the years ranged from one foot to 13 feet deep.

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Taylor said the board has contacted the offices of Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Robert C. Byrd, both D-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., seeking funding sources.

According to Taylor, an aide to Capito suggested that the library board meet a Feb. 18 deadline to submit a request to the congresswoman's office for money to clean up the former dump, deemed to be a contaminated brownfield site, before any further grants can be sought.

Another obstacle, pointed out by Councilman Howard Mills, is that the field is landlocked. He asked where the entrance would be.

Taylor spoke of two scenarios -- an entrance off Cherry Lane, which borders the cemetery on the south side, and the possibility that Lowe might grant the library an easement through his adjacent land off Lowe Drive.

Taylor told the council that the existing small, white library building bisecting South King Street would remain a library facility in some form.

It was founded 87 years ago.

Taylor said any library serving the greater Shepherdstown area should measure about 16,000 square feet.

The town, she said, "has a unique opportunity to create a green multipurpose building incorporating a library and other public spaces."

Taylor said a new Shepherdstown library would have a huge positive impact that would not be limited to current patrons, but to potential ones, as well.

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