Funding Partnership Proposed

Published 4:07 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2014

BUCKINGHAM — Organizers of the proposed new Buckingham County Public Library are seeking to enter into a funding partnership with the County to secure up to $3.5 million to construct the facility.

County supervisors voted unanimously to forward the proposal to County Administrator Rebecca S. Carter for analysis and potential inclusion in the upcoming 2014-2015 fiscal year budget process.

The proposal, presented in a PowerPoint presentation by Brian Bates and Frank Howe, members of the library’s fundraising committee, included working with the County’s industrial development authority to facilitate the loan proceeds to the library board. Funding could be secured by December 2014, with groundbreaking following in early 2015 and project completion by the summer of 2016, according to the presenters.

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“What we would like to do is pursue, with the County, a $3.5 million loan, either through (USDA) Rural Development, or some other agency or entity that might make sense to do that, working in partnership with the local industrial development authority to facilitate the loan proceeds, going to the library board…” Bates, a former supervisor, told County supervisors.

In the proposed plan, based on a USDA Rural Development loan, explained by Bates, the County would pay $175,534.20 annually, financing a potential loan for 40 years at four percent interest. “That equals $11.70 per person, per year,” the presentation explains, “or 3.2 cents per person per day to have a fully modern public library.”

“This board has a history of support of the library, and it doesn’t go unnoticed,” Howe began before displaying his presentation to supervisors and the audience. “The library is a place where the community gathers, and it’s one of those places that defines the spirit of a community. It’s a hash-mark on the barometer of the health of the community,” he explained.

“There is now a new vision, and it takes everyone’s support,” reads one of the PowerPoint slides.

“Tonight, we are asking that you direct the county administrator to analyze our proposal and make a recommendation on this proposal to you for action during this year’s budget process,” reads one of the final slides.

The proposed new library, as currently planned, would be 12,000 square-feet in size, and would be constructed with state- of-the-art form and function, according to one of the slides. It would offer Internet access, literacy programs, children’s programs, a well-developed selection of materials and meeting spaces, while serving as a reflection of Buckingham County’s values and vision.

“It’s a place where people can come to learn, to grow, to achieve throughout their lifespan. And that’s what the library provides,” Howe explained.

The current facility is “inadequate to meet increasing needs of the community. (The) current 4,200 square-foot library is only one-third of the 12,000 square-feet recommended by the Library of Virginia,” reads the presentation. The slides further indicated that the current facility has insufficient space to install additional computers to meet the community’s needs, adding that the children’s materials are overcrowded with no dedicated program space, no area which can be used for computer training classes, and insufficient space for public meetings with more than 20 people. “Simply stated, it’s too small,” Howe added.

According to the presentation, the current population of Buckingham is 15,000, excluding correctional center inmates, over 9,000 of which have library cards. “For the past five years, the Buckingham library has averaged 45,885 visitors per year or over three times the population of the county,” cites the PowerPoint.

Detailed in a slide titled “progress so far,” the presenters explained that $50,000 has been obtained in grant money, while $150,000 has been received through fundraising efforts, such as a wine and cheese social, an online coffee sale, two major fundraising dinners, a music festival, and a motorcycle ride. “Planning and fundraising have been very active, and have proceeded on parallel lines,” Howe noted. “But, we can’t do it without your help. And that’s why we’re here tonight.”

Bates applauded the significant fundraising efforts that have taken place, “but when we look at the total project cost…it seems highly unlikely that we’re going to be able to fundraise our way to this project…We really need to see what it will take to partner with the County…” he further added.

A feasibility study has been conducted for the facility, and community-wide surveys and discussion groups have been facilitated. A schematic design and design development have been completed, and engineers have been identified and are onboard with the project, according to the presentation.

“I would say that this project has been a long time coming,” Bates cited. “It is truly a local initiative, right down to the design being very capably executed by Julie Dixon at Rosney Architects.”

The current library provides numerous services to the community, including a circulating collection of 33,000 items, public access computers with free high-speed wireless Internet access offered 24/7, programs for children, fax and copier services, meeting space for community groups, electronic and audiobooks, and research databases, according to the information presented.

The presentation included quotes regarding the impact of libraries from U.S. News And World Report, Walter Cronkite, the late President John F. Kennedy, Andrew Carnegie, and James Baldwin.

Before voting to forward the proposal to Carter for analysis, supervisors agreed that they would funnel questions, concerns, and ideas regarding the new library through Carter to discuss with library officials.

The new library is set to be constructed on County-donated property just off of the intersection of Routes 15 and 20, where Main Street enters the industrial park.