Expansion sought for Hamburg Library
Since 1966, the Hamburg Public Library has been a destination for many people throughout the community.
Other than a new roof and other maintenance items, there has been no major changes to the facility. But if the library and its board get its wish, the library should be in line for a major renovation.
“We’re getting really excited,” said Martha Salzman, president of the Hamburg Public Library Board of Directors, adding it is her belief that “it’s gonna happen.”
According to Library Director Jack Edson, he believes the estimated cost of the project would be around $2 million to complete.
Edson said he has been feeling a lot of excitement in the community over the possible expansion.
“There’s really a buzz being created,” said Edson.
In recent years, some libraries in the county have shut its doors, while others have reduced hours. As a result, libraries such as Hamburg are seeing an increase in the number of visitors, as it still operates at 60 hours a week.
“This is for the whole Southtowns area,” said Edson. “We have a lot of programs and we don’t have enough room.”
One of the main parts of the project is that a bigger meeting room would be built to accommodate the programs. The expansion would push the building out toward the Rosewood Village senior facility.
It may mean that in order for the entrance to move, the town may need to purchase a portion of the land from the owners of Rosewood.
If the project moves forward, the plan calls for a library area that is much more open and round.
“Computer use is very high,” said Edson.
Salzman said part of the current problem the library has is that there is not enough electrical outlets.
Edson said the lot the library sits on is a house lot that expanded into the library. Being in the heart of the village, he believes it is the perfect location for a public library.
Edson and Salzman said they are both excited after meeting recently with members of the Hamburg Town Board. They believe all three members are behind the expansion project and are hopeful that funding could be sought through a couple of avenues, including a matching New York State Library Construction Grant with the help of Connie Minor, who serves as the town’s grant writer.
They hope the project could be bonded as soon as this summer.
“We also anticipate doing some fundraising as well,” said Salzman.
Right now, one of their main goals is to continue to get the word out and drum up additional support from the community.
A public forum will be held at the library Thursday, April 26 at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposed project.
The library board first began to discuss the idea in the fall of 2010. At that time, they met with the Hamburg Town Board to express their desire to expand the current facility and modernize it to prepare for the future.
After that initial meeting, they decided to hire an architect and came back with more concrete plans before the town board nearly a month ago.
Town Supervisor Steven Walters, who said it is a town-owned facility, said a request for proposal must be sent out by the town to bid the project out before it can apply for a grant through the state.
Walters said the deadline to apply for the grant is in August, so if the town and library move forward with the project, the RFP’s should be completed in June, because, according to the supervisor, it takes about 30 days to get them back and then they have to be reviewed.
He expects the review to be conducted by the library board and the town.
He is confident that the project will draw support from the public.
“It benefits a lot of people,” said Walters.
Edson said one of the biggest issues the library has faced in the last several years is maintaining its ramp for handicapped accessibility.
It has been fixed several times and part of the plan is for there to be a circular indoor entrance for the ramp that will not have to be fixed for several years or deal with the elements, as the current one does.
He said the plan calls for a “large, curve shaped building” with the accessible ramp “along the side.”
There will be a much larger meeting room and a coffee bar is in the plans, which Edson noted adds a “social feel” to the upgrades.
With the amount of hours the Hamburg Public Library is open each week, Edson said the expansion is worth the investment.
“We’re one of a few libraries with Sunday hours,” he said.
They plan to use skylights to help conserve energy in the future and make the library a “green” building. The plan calls for new carpeting and an updated interior look. A lot of the plan reverts to updating the technology.
“Connect to the online world,” said Edson, adding there will be WiFi, making the library multiuse for those who want to enjoy a coffee and use a computer.
There would also be more storage and additional restrooms.
He admitted on his “wish list” is a hidden library inside the building.
The long-term goal is to make it a destination and ensure that it stays open for the long-haul.
When it comes time to do the work on the expansion, Edson said a goal is to make sure the library maintains its hours. He said there could be occasional days or hours the library may be closed, but it will not be long-term, like several days or weeks.
Salzman added the only aspect she thinks could be impacted could be programs during the building process. She is hopeful that if it is impacted, perhaps they could work out something with a nearby library such as Lake Shore. They emphasized at this time, the project is still under the category of proposed.
“This is a real way to give back to our community,” she said.
They hope when the dust settles, the Hamburg Public Library will be an up-to-date, modernized facility.
“Hamburg is a key contracting library in the system,” added Edson.