Downtown Cary will get a new library

twanbaugh@newsobserver.comJune 27, 2014 

— Downtown Cary is getting a new library.

Wake County plans to build a 22,000-square-foot library near Academy Street across from the Cary Arts Center. Construction is set to begin the summer of 2017 and will likely take about 14 months.

The new facility, which could be two stories, will replace the existing library on Academy Street.

“We’ve kind of outgrown this facility, so it would be nice to have a bigger space to work with,” said librarian Mary Peters.

Town leaders have talked for months about including a new library in downtown revitalization plans.

Earlier this year, the town opened The Cary, a $6 million renovated theater on Chatham Street. Plans are in the works for a downtown park along Academy Street, and a developer wants to build a boutique hotel in the area.

The library is a staple in downtown Cary, said Ted Boyd, the town’s downtown manager. He said a new facility would be a positive step in revitalization.

“Lots of people come to the library, and it will be nice to have a new facility,” he said. “The library will continue to be a positive movement to bring people downtown.”

In 2007, voters approved a $45 million bond to repair, replace and build new libraries in Wake County. But officials decided to put off selling the bonds after the economy took a tumble, and construction projects were put on hold.

The county cut back on some libraries’ operating hours and reduced the amount of money set aside for books.

The economy has improved, and Wake County’s 2015 budget includes $1.4 million for libraries to buy new books and $860,000 to upgrade existing facilities.

It allocates $500,00 for preliminary designs for libraries in downtown Cary and the Middle Creek area and also to expand the Fuquay-Varina Community Library.

“We’re trying to address places of growth and buildings that are already at capacity,” said Mike Wasilick, director of Wake County Public Libraries.

The Cary Community Library opened on Academy Street in 1977, when Cary’s population was much smaller.

Lisa Matthews, 49, has been working at the library for about three years. She said the building is too small to meet customers’ demands.

Library patrons can return checked-out books to any library in the county, and Matthews said there’s not enough space on the shelves.

There is a big demand from patrons who want to use the computers at the library, Matthews said. If all the computer stations are being used, people have to travel to the Eva Perry Regional Library in Apex or the West Regional Library in western Cary.

“Many people walk and bike to our library,” she said. “It would be convenient to have the building across the street.”

Middle Creek library planned

Wake County also plans to build a 8,000-square-foot library on West Lake Road near Middle Creek High School.

The land had been acquired in 2000, according to county officials, but plans to build were delayed due to lack of population growth in the area and a lack of money to hire new staff.

Construction will begin next summer and will likely take about 12 months to complete.

The Fuquay-Varina library underwent renovations last summer but is set for more construction in 2016.

Leaders will decide whether to expand the building from 4,800 to 8,000 square feet or to tear it down and build a new facility.

 

Wanbaugh: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @TaylorWanbaugh

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