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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE The old City Hospital building stands March 16 south of the Fayetteville Public Library.

FAYETTEVILLE -- One woman wanted a dance floor inside the library, a man wanted outdoor gardens to use plants native to Arkansas. Residents got their first chance Monday to give input on the function and developing design of the public library's expansion project.

"I think they were really listening," said Allison Williams, who organizes and teaches square dancing.

Moving forward

Library officials are taking the next steps to begin putting together a design for the library expansion, architects and staff said Monday. The project can move ahead because a court battle over the property ended in March. The library was able to buy the old City Hospital land — 4 acres just to the south of the library — for $2 million from Washington Regional Medical Center.

Source: Staff report

Williams was among about 50 residents who attended the first input session at the Fayetteville Public Library. Library staff and architects with MSR asked the public for ideas on library programming, services, outreach and sustainability.

Officials have not yet determined how many input sessions there will be, said Steve Litzinger, library spokesman. The next session will be in early November, he said.

"We're in the midst of a concept phase," said Jack Poling, president and an owner with the architecture firm. "The input we are asking for today really doesn't need to be fettered by anything other than your imagination."

The meetings are meant to give the architects a grasp on what the public wants in services and how best to fit those pieces into a designed building, Poling said. The expansion basically will double the library's size to about 160,000 square feet and add 200 parking spaces.

In previous public input sessions, residents said they wanted a dedicated area for genealogy and local and state history research. The size of the library's youth services division should also double, patrons said. Other additions included a maker space for entrepreneurs, more meeting and collaboration spaces and a multipurpose venue that could seat about 700 people.

On Monday, residents asked questions about where to locate parking, whether to add extra entrances and how best to beef up handicap accessibility. Others had suggestions, including making sure to get children's input in the process.

Scott Mashburn of Fayetteville said he wanted the library's outdoor gardens to use native plants and label plants to make the gardens educational. He, like Williams, said firm staff listened and wrote down his suggestion.

Partly, the input sessions are to make sure residents feel included in the process, Poling said. Some plans were developed and present to the public for a voting referendum last year, but that was not the final design, he said.

Voters last year approved a millage increase to help pay for the library's $49 million expansion. The bond issue will generate about $26.9 million toward the project with an additional $22 million or so coming from private donations.

Construction is expected to begin February 2019 and finish in 2020.

NW News on 10/03/2017

Print Headline: Residents give input for library expansion

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