The Bayard Taylor Regional Library Board of Trustees voted unanimously at our May 20 meeting to build a new library on property we purchased 12 years ago off of East Cypress Street in Kennett Township, just outside the borough of Kennett Square.
This new library will be a “green” building with state-of-the art facilities. Specifics of the new library’s design and layout will be determined with input from community stakeholders from the eight municipalities we serve: East Marlborough, Kennett Township, Kennett Square Borough, New Garden, Newlin, Pennsbury, Pocopson, and West Marlborough.
Beginning in early fall, these Town Hall-style meetings -- run by the board and our architect -- will be important for finding out what patrons in our eight municipalities want in their new library.
Although this new library won’t likely get built for several years, it will certainly not take another decade to build. It will depend on the length of time it takes to raise the funds to build it. Once the money has been raised and after we break ground, construction usually takes another year to a year and a half. We also anticipate doubling the current size of the library, which, at 11,000 square feet, is much too cramped and outdated a space to accommodate the 42,000 patrons we serve on average each year.
While it is certainly true that the previous board members anticipated the need for a new library two decades ago and began planning financially to make that vision a reality, it wasn’t possible to build on the land the library purchased in 2002 because it was determined -- despite being a regional library serving eight townships and not a municipal library solely serving Kennett Square Borough -- that there wasn’t finaincial and community support for moving outside of the borough. That was ten years ago, and several things have changed since then to make the new plan more viable -- indeed, more necessary than ever.
What the current board discovered these past six months through many conversations with key stakeholders and community leaders is that we now have the financial and community support for building this new library at Waywood Road. That support has come, in part, because we demonstrated to stakeholders the due diligence that we completed to exhaustively evaluate over 20 potential sites, both inside and outside of the borough, for the best possible home of the new library.
It is true that, about a year ago, we were optimistic about an opportunity to build in the borough and, as a result, put the Waywood Road land up for sale after taking a vote in favor of proceeding with negotiations with Kennett Borough Council to purchase the existing parking lot behind the current library. We had hoped to build a new, expanded library with underground parking in our existing location.
Contrary to how it has been presented in the media, these negotiations fell through.
In the end, although we also discussed with Borough Council the possibility of purchasing the Weinstein lot on State Street, in order to stay in the borough, this site has some encumbrances on it that left questions in our mind about when and how these would be resolved in order to build.
Despite the status of the Weinstein lot, however, the board then engaged in an exhaustive evaluation of three options: One, rebuilding on the current footprint while trying to buy a parking lot elsewhere; two, purchasing the Weinstein lot if it became available; and three, building on the land we owned at Waywood Road. All sites were evaluated using nine different variables, including site availability, land development cost, fundraising potential, accessibility for our patrons, and cost and adequacy of parking spaces.
The clear winner, by roughly one-third more points in our scoring system, was Waywood Road.
When presented with the above fact-finding and site evaluation, our stakeholders agreed. Indeed, they have been overwhelmingly positive and supportive of the library’s move to Waywood Road and realize the exciting potential that this 5.3-acre property presents for their new library. We have done our homework and it is time to move forward.
The trustees understand that it's not always possible to please everyone. Although we acknowledge that there are some borough residents who may disagree with our decision to move, the board feels confident that this is the right decision to best serve the vast majority of our patrons and support the eight communities in which they live.
Please roll up your sleeves with us, and let's build a great new library!
member, Bayard Taylor Library
Board of Trustees