Groundbreaking Celebration

Scenic Regional Library hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday, May 12, to kick off the construction of the new Union branch. The new library will be more than double in size compared to the current facility. Construction is expected to start next month and should take about 10 months to finish. The new library will be located between the Pasta House and Anytime Fitness off Independence Drive.

From left are Dave Hinson, Franklin County Commission; John Cheatham, Library Board president; Paula Sutton, John Barry and Susan Richardson, all Library Board members; Steven Campbell, Scenic Regional Library director; Stephanie Norton, Scenic Regional Library Foundation secretary; Karen Holtmeyer, Library Board member; and State Rep. Paul Curtman. Missourian Photo/Joe Barker.

More than six weeks after the ground was officially broken, work is expected to begin soon on the new Union branch of the Scenic Regional Library.

Scenic Regional Library Director Steven Campbell said construction crews are expected to start working as soon as this week. The contract calls for the work to be done in 300 days he said, so the library is targeting an April opening.

On May 12, a crowd of people packed onto a small patch of grass near the Pasta House to celebrate the groundbreaking. At the ceremony, Campbell said construction was likely to start in June.

Campbell told The Missourian that he had originally thought work would have already started in mid-June. However, that hasn’t been the case and he was recently told the work should start at the tail end of the month.

Despite the delay, Campbell said the he isn’t worried. He said the contract includes damages if the project isn’t finished in time.

The building will be located north of Anytime Fitness and The Pasta House off Independence Drive. A service road will be extended to the new library.

“It’s really going to be a game-changer for the community,” Campbell said.

The location was chosen after exploring several sites along the Highway 47 corridor, downtown, the library’s current location and sites in the area of Prairie Dell/East Central College, east of its current location.

A demographic study helped officials glean the site chosen. The study included studying the number of people within a five-minute driving radius and the anticipated population growth through 2021.

The new Union branch will be massive compared to its current facilities. The library purchased nearly 3 acres for the building and plans to use the space.

At the site, the building will include the library, bookmobile and administration offices, which now are housed in a separate building at the Union branch site.

Plans call for the building to be approximately 23,000 square feet — 17,200 square feet for the Union branch and 5,800 square feet for the administrative offices and bookmobile. The current size of the library is 7,000 square feet.

Campbell said basically doubling the size of the library is a reflection of Union’s growth. When the current building opened in 1991, Union’s population was about 5,000. Today that total is over 11,000.

“It’s the fastest-growing community in Franklin County,” he said. “The new library will help us keep pace with that growth. The new building will not only be bigger, but also better.”

The new library will have 106 parking spaces, more than double at the current building. Meeting room space will triple, Campbell said.

“We can have more programming, community groups will be able to use it more,” he said. “Right now we get double-booked some times and we can’t have groups meet. With three separate meeting rooms, we can have basically unlimited programs and unlimited meetings.”

The building also will feature new furniture and more amenities for visitors.

“There’s going to places to charge your phones and tablets at every single chair and table in the building,” he said.

Plans call for more outdoor space, a children’s area and even a place for teens. More space also means more books.

“We have so many children’s books in storage that we can’t even fit on the shelves,” Campbell said.

The goal of the building is to be more than a library.

“We want to be a community center,” Campbell said. “We’d really like to see the library become that, more than it is now.”

Total costs are expected to be between $6 million to $6.5 million.