Plans to construct a second Delaware County District Library (DCDL) branch in Powell have come to fruition as representatives of the library team held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday at the future site of the Liberty Branch Library at the corner of Home and Steitz roads.
Various representatives of the DCDL leadership team were on hand for the ceremony, as was Powell Mayor Frank Bertone, to mark the momentous occasion. Proclamations issued by Congressman Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) and the Delaware County Board of Commissioners were also read.
The branch will be the fifth location in the district system, joining branches in Delaware, Ostrander, Orange Township, and Powell’s centralized location. The existing Powell location will remain in operation after the new branch is finished. Construction of the two-story, 42,000-square-foot building will encompass a 3.2-acre footprint and is expected to be completed around June of 2022.
“Today, we begin the process of delivering on a promise,” DCDL Director George Needham said Wednesday. “The jewel box that is the current Powell branch on Liberty Road and Library Park is beautiful, but it was built for Powell the way it was in 1982.
“We promised the people in our district that if they renewed our levy in November 2018, we would build a new library to serve Powell, Liberty Township and Concord Township. Today, we begin to fulfill that promise,” he added.
The approved 2018 levy was to maintain a rate of 1 mill, which is good for 15 years and did not include any sort of raise to residents’ property taxes. At around $5 million, the levy makes up two-thirds of the library’s budget with state funding providing around $2.2 million.
Needham said groundbreaking for the Liberty branch is more than a simple campaign promise. Rather, in a world so conflicted by a multitude of divisive issues, Needham said the library “is, in and of itself, a promise.”
“A library is a promise that we can use our intelligence to improve our lives and our world,” Needham said. “It is a promise to the next generation that they will have the opportunity to be better educated and more adaptable to the world they will inherit. It is a promise that the knowledge, the literature, the poetry, the faith, and the cultures we’ve inherited will be augmented and will endure.”
Needham added he has often been asked if building a new branch during a period of great economic uncertainty is ill-advised. However, he pointed out that the Orange Branch Library, which was built during the depths of the 2008 recession, has flourished to become a cornerstone of that community, as well as the district’s busiest library in some ways. “This new Liberty Branch Library can become the cornerstone of this community as well,” he said.
Michael P. Butler, the president of the DCDL Board of Trustees and a Powell resident, said of the chosen location for the branch, “This is a rapidly-growing community … Olentangy Local Schools has a large presence very close to here. Those students will be a big part of our natural audience. There are literally thousands of residents within a one-mile radius to this spot, meaning people can walk or bicycle here, as well as drive.”
Butler added that the easy access to the site, with access points on both Home and Steitz roads, will serve drivers well when visiting the branch. He went on to say the building plans represent many of the features residents asked for as the branch began to take preliminary shape, including plentiful parking, an internal courtyard for quiet reading, patios, and large meeting rooms for various programs and community events.
“We look forward to being good neighbors here, bringing great reading, viewing materials, interesting programs, and new excitement to this community,” Butler said. “We invite you to join us on this journey and to be both the cause and the recipient of that excitement.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.