The Gettysburg Branch of the Adams County Library System, currently located at the corner of Baltimore and High Streets, is moving. Yesterday, the library asked the Gettysburg Area Recreational Authority (GARA) to allow them to build a new 27,000 square foot building on three acres in the rec park.
Speaking for the library were Library Board of Trustees President Dorothy Puhl and Library President Laura Goss. Puhl and Goss noted:
- The current library is not appropriately accessible and does not provide the open spaces needed for a modern library.
- About 45 percent of people in the county have library cards and almost 18,000 of those use Gettysburg as the home library.
- Within the borough about 57 percent of about 8,000 residents have library cards and use the library and as do about 47 percent of the 6,200 Cumberland Country residents.
“Most people are driving into Gettysburg and trying to find a parking space. But there are only eight spaces on the library property,” said Goss. “We looked around to see what was available and the rec park seemed a good choice.”
The library said they were also looking at other sites but that there were not many appropriate lots available in the borough.
The library said they had formed an exploratory committee and engaged a consultant to help with the building campaign, and that they were in the process of selecting an architectural designer by June of this year.
Puhl and Goss said the library was interested in building on the corner of Breckinridge St. and Long near the PNC Bank, but GARA board members had other ideas.
Putting it in the corner “blocks the whole park from the borough,” said GARA board member Steve Niebler. “My other motivation is to pave over as little greenery as possible. If we incorporated the library at the back end of the Sterner building we could use the existing parking lot.”
GARA president Steve Toddes suggested putting the building in the area by the American Legion building next to the Sterner building. “It would be out there on the hill in the front which would give you more visibility and closer parking,” said Toddes.
The library wants to buy a parcel of land for the new building, but Niebler said it was not likely the rec park would be able to sell, saying “we might all get criticized if we decided to sell you a parcel.” Niebler suggested a long lease might be a better possibility.
Another issue still to be determined involves appropriate use of the rec park. GARA’s lease from Gettysburg Borough states the park is to be used for “recreation,” and it is not clear that a library meets that criterion.
Library and GARA representatives plan to survey the rec park looking for appropriate sites next month.
“I think this is a great idea, but I don’t want us to chase our tails. We need to ask and see if this is possible,” said GARA board member Robin Fitzpatrick.
In other GARA news, Executive Director Erin Peddigree said the GARA budget was solid. ‘We should be good going into the spring,” said Peddigree.
Peddigree said the rec park had received estimates of about $6,000 to install security cameras to monitor the skate park, the amphitheater, the Sterner building and other places in the park.
Peddigree said the Autism Walk and the Library Fest have already been cancelled and that the Fireman’s carnival would also be as well, but that organizers are still hoping the Heritage Festival will happen in the fall.