After following the procedures taken by the Shepherdstown Public Library Board of Directors actions regarding the proposed Brownfields location, the Chronicle believes that the Board has used due diligence in researching, exploring and selecting a site for a new library facility.
While change is often a difficult thing, the relocation of the library to the Brownfields site will allow expansion of services to all of those served by the public library. The current location does not allow for sufficient parking or sufficient space for programs or materials. While it appears that all involved agree that the Market House is simply too small, the controversy stems from where the library should go.
Years of study led the SPL board to select the old dump site and many arrangements have been made to move forward at that location including the securing of grants to clean up the area. To disregard the work that has been done simply because the Southern States building might be available diminishes the hard work of those who have served to seek the best solution for the library.
While the ideal would be to keep the library in the center of downtown, the relocation to the Brownfields site is within walking distance of the downtown. There will need to be infrastructure put in place; however, the location will not, in our opinion, cause individuals not to frequent the downtown area.
Business leaders who seek to have the library relocate to the Southern States property feel that they may lose business when the library moves out of the center of town. We submit that regardless of which location the library may choose, those who frequent downtown will continue to do so. Those who choose not to or who are unable to because of other issues, namely parking or lack thereof, would not visit anyway.
The possible availability of the Southern States site does not come without problems. As stated by Marc Wirt Tuesday evening, the building there is simply a shell. To refurbish it into a state of the art library would come at a large cost. In addition, the land would come at a large cost as well. The land at the currently proposed site is already available.. Federal and other monies are available to clean it up as was arranged before the Southern States property ever entered the picture.
To abandon a project simply because another property becomes available lacks fiscal responsibility. At what point are the plans made? We consider them to be made now as the SPL has evaluated, studied and come up with a plan to offer library services to their constituents. Let's support them in that endeavor.