While the fate of the Media-Upper Providence Library renovations seem uncertain at the moment, Library Board President Fran Shields says the plans are proceeding. for the library renovations in 2013, but Upper Providence Township Council did not approve funding for 2013.
The total cost of the library renovation is estimated at $2.5 million. The library board has asked for $684,000 from Media, $516,000 from Upper Providence and they are applying for a $500,000 Keystone Grant from the state. Private donors have given $100,000 so far to the project.
"I remain cautiously optimistic that the Upper Providence Council will see that the residents of their community are very interested in continuing with the library," Shields said.
The project was set to begin in the spring of 2013, but with the funding obstacles, it has been delayed until spring of 2014.
If Upper Providence again, does not include funding in its 2014 budget, then the situation will be difficult, Shields said. More donations would likely be necessary to raise the portion that would have been funded by Upper Providence.
Shields encouraged Upper Providence residents to show their support for the library and talk to their representatives.
The library sees about 84,000 visitors per year, Shields said. Looking at the number of people who take out books, approximately 43 percent are from Upper Providence and 57 percent from Media. Out of all of the cardholders, who do not necessarily all visit the library, 55 percent are from Upper Providence and the other 45 percent are Media residents. These numbers do not account for cardholders who download electronic books online.
There is a library trust in place involving cash and investments left by Matilda Sprogll to the library. The building was left to the library separately from the trust, and there are no restrictions about where the library can be located, Shields said. It could be moved to Upper Providence, but makes more sense to keep it in Media, he said.
"I personally believe the library is one of the greatest resources we have," Media Borough Councilman Kent Davidson said.
Davidson said Media Borough Council, which did approve library funding for 2013, is interested in working with the Upper Providence Council to help make these renovations possible.
"I’m going to work as hard as I can to make this happen," Davidson said.
"The [Upper Providence] Council is fully supportive of the library, but they are limited to what they can do, due to the current economic situation," Upper Providence Township Manager Greg Lebold said.
Lebold went on to say that Upper Providence would like to help with the project and will continue to evaluate as the year progresses. But for now the funding is not possible.
"Our debt service exceeds what we could reasonably pass on to our residents," Lebold said.
Upper Providence Council's decision to not budget for the library project, was in no way impacted by the Third Street Project, he said.
Upper Providence Township Council has previously voiced its concerns with Media Borough Council's vote to make 3rd Street a one-way, one-lane roadway heading in to Media, away from Upper Providence.
The current 100-year-old library is made up of six different structures which are cobbled together, three of which are clearly visible when looking at the site, Shields said.
The three main levels, include the Sprogll building on the corner of Front and Jackson, another house that is now the staff building and a middle section connecting the two buildings.
"People with disabilities can only get to one or two of those sections," Shields said.
There is no feasible way to install ramps and other handicap accessible features in the current structure and the current library is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, Shields said.
The new library would be just two floors, instead of the current six, and would have an elevator.
"We want a public library to be accessible to every community member," Shields said.
The three-phase renovation is estimated to take about six to eight months. The first phase will involve demolishing the Sprogll house and building a new structure. The second phase is to renovate what is now the middle portion of the building and to add a new roof to the structure. The third and final phase is to knock down the staff building and add more parking in its place. The goal of this three-phase plan is to allow the library to remain open while being renovated.
The current library is approximately 9,000 square feet, but only about 6,000 square feet are being used, Shields said.
The second floor of the library is not used, Shields said, because it is not accessible for handicapped patrons and also would need updates to the electricity, heating and air conditioning for basic access.
Having access to the second floor in the renovated library would allow for more programming space for children and adults. It will also have a room for the media archives, which are currently housed in the staff building and require an appointment to access. Once in the new second floor, there will be better security and no need to make appointments.
Donations toward the library project can be made through the library website here.