Monday, March 15, 2004

New site proposed for Boone library

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BURLINGTON - After a two-year search for a new branch location, the Boone County Library may have found the answer at one of the county's busiest crossroads.

The library and the Boone County Cooperative Extension Service are discussing a new library at Ky. 18 and Camp Ernst Road, a tract that also includes land used by the Boone County Farmer's Market.

The extension service owns 15 acres at Camp Ernst and Ky. 18 where it has two buildings. Using some of that land for a library branch would make the best use of taxpayers' money, said Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore.

"I am excited that the extension service and library are working together to find a library location in the central part of the county," he said.

The site is the latest of at least six locations the library has considered in the Ky. 18 and 237 area, said Library Director Lucinda Brown. But no decisions have been made.

"We knew two years ago that we had to expand or replace the Lents Branch," Brown said.

The Lents Branch, which opened in 1989 off Ky. 237 in Hebron, is 6,000 square feet. But the library needs a 30,000-square-foot branch to serve the growing population, she said.

The extension service site is three miles from the Lents Branch and 5 1/2 miles from the library's largest branch on U.S. 42 in Union.

The idea of co-locating the library and extension service came out of meetings between Boone County's public agencies, said Moore, who sits on the extension service board and appoints the library board.

Those meetings have made the agencies more aware of each other's plans, Brown said. "We are looking for ways to work together to make the most of what taxpayer dollars can buy," Brown said

The library's quest for a site came at a time when the Cooperative Extension Service is re-evaluating it's land.

The impending widening of Ky. 23, which will eliminate the service's entrances, prompted the review, said board attorney Dave Schneider.

Architects have presented several ideas to the board, but nothing has been finalized, he said.

One sketch shows a 25,000-square-foot library on what is now a two-acre paved area used for the Boone County Farmer's Market. That worries Don Talbert, president of the Boone County Farmer's Market Association.

"I'm deeply concerned about our people losing business because of this," said Talbert, whose group includes 48 farmers.

Both Moore and Schneider said if a library is built, there will be another location for the market.

The sketch of the proposed layout shows a smaller parking lot with 32 bays that the Farmer's Market could use. The current market has 36 bays.

The plan indicates that the current extension service building's meeting rooms would be renovated into classrooms. It also shows a new 15,000-square-foot meeting hall between the current building and the proposed library.

Whether the library will be at the extension site or not, Brown said she hopes a decision on a new site will be made in a couple of months.



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