Besore expansion could begin soon in Greencastle; monetary support still needed

Kay Witmer, Besore Library Association president, and Patti Divelbiss, Capital Campaign chairman, are excited about a potential soon start to groundbreaking, but know that more funds are still needed.

Donations to the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library Capital Campaign could soon be put to their intended use.  The Besore Association, the volunteer board in charge of maintenance and capital improvements at the public library, is ready to start Phase 1. They are halfway to the $1.2 million goal to bring the 1963 library into the 21st century.

Money-in-hand and pledges over the past two years total $630,000, said campaign committee chair Patti Divelbiss.

A few hurdles must be jumped before groundbreaking can take place. The Greencastle Zoning Hearing Board will decide Oct. 25 whether to grant a special exception to expand the non-conforming use of the library, which sits in a residential zone, at 305 E. Baltimore St. The Phase 1 plans call for a 3,500 square foot one-story addition which includes a children's program room; upgraded heating, electrical and air conditioning in the entire building; ADA-compliant bathrooms throughout; a lift; and roof repairs. The library will lose six parking spots with the remodeling.

The association cannot vote to start construction until the final bid is in. Eagle Construction is waiting for numbers on some of the supplies, most notably steel.

If the cost exceeds contributions, the association will wait until spring to start building. The committee did not send out donor letters in 2012, due to the expense of printing and postage.

"We are at a crossroads," said Divelbiss. "Every penny counts toward trying to get this done. We need the general public to help us get there for both phases."

Phase 2 will include much-needed improvements to the existing building, such as new carpeting, windows and blinds, and a fund for ongoing maintenance costs.

ecause of the cost, for the present, plans from a few years ago have been dropped. The association wanted to make a two-story addition which would also house a community meeting room, install an elevator and purchase land for more parking.

Phase I

Architect James S. Kasun from Falling Waters, W. Va. is drawing up the design. The floorplan requires a shift in direction for patrons. The main entrance will be from the parking lot, with the addition to the left. That will contain a large children's room, which can be split into two units. There will be a kitchen and bathroom, therefore running water, which is missing from the current children's room in the basement of the other wing.

To the right of the new entrance will be stairs and a lift to bring people up to the main level of today's library. Two large bathrooms will be available for the public, and nearby will be the director's office, and a staff room. An open entry will be created to get to the book section. The lounge area will be moved a little and some changes will eventually take place in the layout of that side of the building.

Meanwhile, the current back door and stairwell will remain in place, and the downstairs history room will not change. The upstairs bathroom will be converted for use by youngsters.

One surprise at the new library will be an outdoor seating area, courtesy of an anonymous donor. The corner by the history room door will be transformed into a patio, with free wifi available even when the library is closed. The mature trees will give shade on hot days. There will also be a mural.

"It is gorgeous," association president Kay Witmer said. "I see it as a mini-park."

Ready to go

Witmer said the board is anxious to get started.

"We have made a commitment and compared the preliminary pricing to the money at hand. It looks positive. If the final pricing comes in good, it could happen quickly."

Divelbiss added, "We hope donations roll in so we can do the entire project at once."

If groundbreaking takes place in November, the project could be done by summer. Both hope the digging doesn't have to wait until spring.

"We really need people's support now," Divelbiss concluded. "They really can make a difference."