The has reached its capacity and is in need of expansion, however there is no room to expand on the current 6,600-square-foot library and alternate locations are being discussed, according to library representatives.
Gary Grove, president of the Middletown Free Library Board of Trustees, sent Media Patch a presentation that was brought before a recent Middletown Township Land Planning Committee meeting.
"There is no question that we have outgrown our existing facility at 21 Pennell Road and can not expand it any further," Grove said in an email message.
Library circulation is at an all-time high, as is attendance at many of the adult and children's programs, which the multi-purpose room can no longer handle, according to Grove. More parking and more computer stations are also needed.
An expansion on the current property is not an option because the library only owns the building, not the land, and an expansion would encroach on surrounding properties.
According to Grove, a "no frills" needs assessment was done and 12,500 to 15,000 square feet of library space is needed to properly service library patrons.
Four library location alternatives have been discussed:
- Relocate the library to inside the Granite Run Mall
- Build a new library at the Smedely property on the corner of Rose Tree and N. Middletown roads
- Adapt and re-purpose the vacant administrative building at Sleighton Farms
- Use a proposed building on the Franklin Mint property, slated for municipal use, as the library
Each option is being careful considered by the township, Grove said, however of the four alternatives moving to the mall or building a new library at the Smedely property seem to be the most viable.
He said adapting the Sleighton Farms building would require an agreement between two townships and developers and the expense is unclear due to possible lead paint and asbestos on the property.
Grove said he also believed that a new firehouse for the was being .
The township-owned Smedely property/barn option may not offer much more space than the existing library since a new-construction restriction on the property is that it must stay within the barn's existing footprint, according to the Delaware County Daily Times.
The Granite Run Mall has a 14,200-square-foot space on the first floor that could be converted to a library, which would increase room for books and a community room. The mall also offers plenty of parking and the renovations could be done quickly without disrupting service at the current library, according to Grove.
"It is clear that moving the library to the mall will increase the foot traffic to the mall and thus should make it more attractive for the retailers," Grove said. "There are no guarantees that this will be enough to rescue the mall although this has indeed happened at other locations."
According to Grove, , has experience with converting mall space into a library and believes Granite Run is an ideal candidate for such a conversion.
The cost of moving the library to the mall has yet to be determined but it would include leasing the mall space and the cost of physically moving, along with renovations, he said.
The other library alternatives would require longer renovation or construction time frames and would likely cost considerably more money, according to Grove.
"I wish I knew what our future plans for the library will be, but for now there are still many unknowns," Grove said.
The mall option will likely be revisited after a mall management update at a September or October township council meeting and the Franklin Mint possibility may be discussed further as the developers move forward with their plans.
Tell us what you think.