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As part of the Saline District Library interior renovations and site improvements plan, there’s a proposal to construct an outdoor pavilion, pedestrian plaza, and a walkway along the sides of the existing library building.

The city of Saline Planning Commission recently took a look at this plan. To learn more, the Sun Times News followed up with Ben Harrington, the city of Saline’s Community Development Director.

He said the proposed pavilion/pergola structure exceeds the city’s code standards for “residential districts” which the library technically falls within, so the planners of the project “will be seeking a variance for its size at the June 6, 2024, ZBA meeting.”

According to city consultants, this project proposes adding 425 linear feet of concrete walkway, a 920 square foot pavilion structure, and a 3,245 square foot pedestrian plaza just west of the existing library building with the proposed improvements also including a renovated monument sign and new landscaping throughout the project area.

In March, the Saline District Library (SDL) announced it plans to begin construction on interior renovations and site improvements in June 2024.

“The plan calls for an outdoor pavilion and paved story trail on library grounds, and building renovations include more study rooms, larger space for teens, increased comfortable seating areas, a drive-through service window to pick up holds, improved program rooms, a fully accessible non-gendered public restroom, and more,” SDL said in its announcement.

The library is working with Quinn Evans Architects and McCarthy & Smith Construction Services on this project, which is scheduled for June to December 2024.

Interior renovations are expected to take place in three phases to allow the library to stay open to the public as much as possible during construction.

Phase 1: June 10-August 9. This will include a new Teen Room, new adult reference desk, a home for our ETC Collection, a fully accessible non-gendered restroom with an adult sized changing table, and more.

Phase 2: August 12-October 15. This will include a drive-through service window to pick up reserved materials, a new front desk, and improvements to work areas for our staff.

Phase 3: October 16-December 18. This will include 2 new program rooms, 2 new study rooms, a new commons area to sit and enjoy new releases and magazines, a new youth reference desk, and a new home for the Friends of the Library Corner Book Shop in what is now the Brecon Room.

Interior renovations include:
• Larger Teen Room
• More study rooms
• Increased comfortable seating areas
• Drive-through service window for holds pickups
• New program rooms with updated AV capabilities
• Fully accessible non-gendered restroom with adult-sized changing table
• New shelving for our ETC Collection
• Updated furnishings & new carpet
• Improved staff workspaces with better storage
• Larger space for the Friends of the Library Corner Book Shop

Exterior site improvements include:
• New pavilion for outdoor programming
• New paved plaza with exterior seating & access to the pavilion
• Paved story trail around the building
• Additional rain garden area & new landscaping

The project is expected to cost $4 million, and will be paid for by SDL fund balances that were established for this purpose, according to the SDL plan. The library said the Friends of the Saline District Library have also generously committed to a $100,000 contribution to the project.

 In the announcement, Library Director Karrie Waarala said the impetus for this project stems from SDL’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan.

“We listened carefully to community input when developing the plan,” she said. “The top requests of more study rooms, increased space for our after school teens, and more comfortable seating areas made it clear that optimizing library spaces was the #1 focus area for our community. We’re excited to deliver on those requests and to make better use of the library’s beautiful grounds.”

One part of the Strategic Plan states that:

SDL will optimize indoor and outdoor library spaces to evolve as a destination within the community, providing experiential and interactive environments that delight users and improve quality of life.

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