|Posted by Anne Siren on March 29, 2013 at 3:15 PM|
By Judy Vik
Pompano Beach – A site for the beach library has been proposed and apparently accepted by city commissioners. The new branch will be built on the corner of Riverside Drive and Northeast 2 Street on city-owned land. The library must move from its current site to make room for redevelopment of the pier parking lot.
Goals have been to keep the library in operation and keep it on the barrier island, Nguyen Tran, project manager, said.
Before making its site recommendation, Tran said staff looked at several possibilities, including the second story of the Wells Fargo building, the Sera Martell Martel site at 110 N. Ocean and the Oceanside lot.
The bank site was ruled out because it is half the size of the existing library and would have required extensive renovation. There was no workable parking solution at the Martel location. They also looked at moving the existing building to the recommended site, but the cost was estimated at $920,000.
The new site is just west of the Wells Fargo building.
“One of our goals is to create a pedestrian connection from the beach [and pier development] through the site to the Intracoastal Waterway to the west,” said planner Natasha Alfonso.
Discussions are under way with Wells Fargo officials to reconfigure some of their parking and to share an entrance off Northeast 2 Street.
The greenway would be enhanced there and expanded to Riverside Drive. The library building would front on a park, enhancing security there. Conceptual drawings are of a 4,000 square foot Florida vernacular style structure with a 1,400-foot veranda wrapping around a corner. About half the building would be used for meetings and storage.
Several residents urged the commission to approve the location, including Jack Rogerson, chair of the East CRA Advisory Board, who said the board voted 6-2 in favor of the site. He said the location has a lot of community support, and is “the only option we have. I think we did it right, finally,” he said.
Phyllis Nackman, a resident of Jamaica House condominium and a nine-year library volunteer, said she has seen the importance of the library, with people using computers, iPads “and still those who treasure a book.” She said the proposed new location would satisfy the needs of the community.
Some residents urged the commission to approve a bigger library, so more programs could be planned for children, and a larger community center area so meetings could take place there.
“If we’re looking for a semi-permanent or permanent solution, we need to do something that satisfies all the residents,” said Sandy Von Staden, vice chair of the East CRA Advisory Board, who voted against the site. She said patrons have been promised programming for families and older residents and were told that a lack of space prevented expanded programming.
Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca told commissioners they had a commitment from the county administration to keep operating the library.
Commissioner Rex Hardin asked if the library could be larger, so community meetings could be held there.
Vice Mayor George Brummer was not satisfied with the proposal. “It’s haphazard.” He said it should first be determined what is wanted in the library and then decide the size.
“It’s not practical to start planning a building when you don’t know what will be in it,” he said to audience applause.
Brummer questioned whether there would be a charge for parking at the library. Beach said that wasn’t envisioned. Brummer said if there was no charge, spaces would be available for beachgoers.
The library must be relocated by June 2014. The city recently approved a development agreement between the city and Pompano Pier Associates for redevelopment on the land where the library is now located.
Kim Briesemeister, co-executive director of the CRA, said the current discussion was aimed at the beach library relocation. “This is about a library, not a community center,” she said. “Do you approve this site for the library? We will discuss other uses later.”
Still Brummer persisted, noting, “It’s wrong to say we’re just discussing a library now. I can’t see a library being built without a community center. We need to know a little more about it. I’m not satisfied with what I’m seeing here.”
Commissioner Barry Dockswell said, “Our priority is to keep the library and move off the pier development area.” He said the proposed plan moves the city in the right direction. “It’s new, bigger and can enhance programming.”
Mayor Lamar Fisher suggested negotiating with Wells Fargo to get their site for a community center and visitor’s center. He said they’ve shut down their drive-through.
“The cry is so loud to keep the library; this is where we need to go,” Fisher said.
The proposed library will cost about $1.67 million.