Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Construction hasn’t begun yet, but plans for two new libraries in the East Hamilton area are moving forward.
A new Eastgate branch of the Chattanooga Public Library is currently in the design process according to new Public Library Executive Director Corinne Hill.
“We don’t have a target completion date yet on the project,” she said. “Once we get a schematic design, we can go back to the community and move forward with funding the project.”
The new library is slated to reclaim the 32,000-square-foot building on Eastgate Loop Road that formerly housed the U.S. Postal Service encoding building.
“We would love to be able to give people a place they can come for meetings, independent books clubs and Big Brothers and Big Sisters outings,” said Eastgate Library Branch Manager Margaret Curtis. “It is unlimited what we will be able to do.”
Hill echoed Curtis’ comments by saying she’d like to see the new facility incorporate multiple uses for the community.
“We’re much more than just books,” she said. “We want it to be a natural place for people to go.”
Curtis said she’d like to be able to offer the public more programs for both adults and children in the new facility, but ultimately those offerings will be determined by the new facility’s design and the hours of operation.
“The really important thing for me that I want the community to know as we move forward is that my absolute foremost concern is that they have a library that they want to use,” said Hill. “The children’s programs, the technology and the popular materials are all core services, but how they are delivered is up to the community.”
With construction of the long-stalled Embassy Suites hotel beginning at the Waterside development off Shallowford Road, a new library that was a stipulation of developer Ken DeFoor’s rezoning request is one step closer to becoming a reality.
“We’re getting closer to a new library with the opening of Mellow Mushroom and the construction of Embassy Suites,” said Chattanooga City Council District 4 representative Jack Benson. “But when the library will be built is probably dependent on the success of the revenue stream that comes with what is already developed.”
Benson said through his experience with Waterside he learned the hard way that perhaps the council shouldn’t have permitted the development without a stricter timeline of when all the components would be completed.
“If I had it to do over again, I’d put timelines on the library and the residential component,” he said. “We probably should have stipulated that the library should be completed when a certain percent of the development was done.”
According to Benson and Hill, no further information has been made public.
“I haven’t heard anything official about it,” said Hill in regards to the anticipated library branch. “No official status has been released from the city.”
Benson said he is certain the library will come to fruition.
“The whole rezoning was based on these conditions being filled,” he said of the library and several other conditions mandated in the rezoning. “We are currently giving out occupancy certificates to businesses individually, but if those conditions aren’t met, we can void all of them, the way I understand it.”