The Gettysburg Borough Council is taking first steps to clear the way for the Gettysburg Branch of the Adams County Public Library System to build a new 27,000 square foot building on three acres in the Gettysburg rec park.
The library is moving from its current location at the corner of Baltimore and High Streets and is looking at lots both in and out of the borough.
Citing needs for parking, accessibility, and sustainably, as well as creating appropriate facilities for children, teens, and adults, Library System Director Laura Goss said the current building cannot be renovated to meet the needs of a 21st century library and community center.
Library Board of Trustees President Dorothy Puhl said the library had hired a consultant for the building search. “We visited a number of sites. The Gettysburg rec park is the most attractive option for us. It allows us to remain in the borough in a walkable area,” said Puhl.
Borough Council members expressed support for the idea and asked Borough Solicitor Harry Eastman to assess issues involved in the project including potential deed restrictions and selling part of the rec park to the library system. “This is a matter I’d have to take a very careful look at,” said Eastman.
The current deed restrictions on the rec park say it must be used for recreational purposes, and the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources would have to make the judgment as to whether a library fits that category.
“Libraries are indeed recreational,” said Puhl. “We are committed to spending additional funds as necessary to explore all avenues to make this work.”
Council member Matt Moon suggested “some aspect of play” might be built into the library building to further the recreation connection. “This would help GARA. It would help the borough,” said Moon.
Council member Patti Lawson said she could envision connecting Baltimore Street with the library therefore adding “new energy” to the borough.
The council noted the borough owns the rec park property and leases it to GARA and that the current lease expires in 2023.
The library said it would like to sell the current building to an appropriate party and that there had already been interest expressed, including potential use as a hotel.
“If [the rec park site] doesn’t work out we’re going to be looking elsewhere,” said Goss.