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Shepherdstown Library site cleanup begins

April 14, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • This sign was placed near the site of the proposed new library off W.Va. 480 in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
Photo by Richard F. Belisle

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — In the next two weeks, a contractor will begin cleaning up the site of the former town dump, marking the first physical step toward construction of a new $3.5 million Shepherdstown library.

Snyder Environmental of Charles Town, W.Va., won the $718,000 contract to clear trees, remove buried garbage and do preliminary site work at the 4.5-acre brownfield, said Libby Sturm, president of the five-member Shepherdstown Public Library Board of Trustees.

The members are appointed by the Shepherdstown Town Council.

The board raised $500,000, including a $250,000 private donation, plus a $25,000 State Library Board grant announced last week, toward the cost of the cleanup. A $200,000 federal grant, handled through the Jefferson County Development Authority, added to the total cleanup fund, Sturm said.

Hali Taylor, library director, said the contract calls for the site off W.Va. 480 to be cleared in 120 days.

The town, which used the land as a dump from 1954 to 1969, donated the land to the library board.
According to a public presentation in October written by library volunteer Jane Blash, the Shepherdstown Women’s Club opened the library in 1922 in the Old Market House building.

Sturm said the small, white, two-story historic structure that splits South King Street dates to the early 19th century. It has been used as a jail, firehouse and Civil War hospital.

The library occupied the first floor of the building until 1960, when the women’s club moved the children’s section upstairs. In 1972, the town council applied for a share of the state’s public library funds and the library “received public status,” according to Blash’s presentation.

The 2,000-square-foot library was growing smaller as Shepherdstown and its environs grew bigger.

Library supporters began discussions about finding more room. When the town offered to donate the old dump, which was classified as a brownfield by the federal government, it became the trustees’ preferred site.

Some in the community raised objections, among them the issue of safety for children crossing heavily traveled W.Va. 480. Others opposed moving the library out of town.

New construction plans include leaving some library functions in the Market House building, Blash said in her presentation.

A large sign that reads “Future Home of Shepherdstown Library” has been installed near the brownfield site on the northwest corner of the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center at 233 Lowe Drive.

The trustees hired the architectural firm Alexander Design Studio of Ellicott City, Md., to design a 12,000-square-foot building on two floors with a 40-space parking lot. The trustees want defined open spaces for children, teens and adults, a meeting room, librarians’ work room and a director’s office.

The board, “to guide the community fundraising process,” hired Brydon DeWitt and Associates, a campaign consultant, Blash said in her presentation.

Taylor said the capital campaign won’t begin until the brownfield is cleared.

“We won’t start building until most of the (construction) money is committed,” Sturm said.

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