Mayor Dave Augustyn’s column for the week of 20 June 2016 - Maple Acre Library Renovations
It was great to start this week by ceremoniously beginning the renovation and revitalization of the Maple Acre Library in Downtown Fenwick. I was pleased not only because members of the Advisory Committee, the Pelham Library Board, Friends of Maple Acre Library, and Town Council could hold demolition tools, but because renewing the Library Branch has been talked about and desired for many, many years.
Council and the Library Board recognized years ago that the aged Maple Acre Library branch required renewal; we struck a joint committee back in 2008 to make recommendations. While that committee looked at many ideas – building a joint Library / Firehall (prior to the new Fire Station #2), constructing a new library either in Centennial Park or at the former Fire Station (Welland Road at Canboro) – it got a bit stuck on the details and options.
To get things moving, the Town retained a consulting firm in early-2013 to conduct facilities and operational reviews. This review recommended that the Maple Acre branch become a kiosk-type operation, instead of a full-service branch. This recommendation was rejected by the Board and met the ire of the community-at-large.
To break the impasse, Council initiated combined Council, Board, Friends of Maple Acre Library and community creative problem solving sessions in late-2013 to early-2014. Working on the challenge – “How might we provide the most appropriate library services in Fenwick?” – led to an April 2014 resolution of Council to “continue library services at the Maple Acre Branch.”
That spring, Council struck a tripartite working group to recommend a “state of the art, ideal, and resilient library” in Fenwick. In September, the group proposed renovating and adding on to the original 1919 Maple Acre building with a “learning commons”-type library with “rentable, flexible, multi-purpose, open space” and an area for the community’s “significant historic records.” Council accepted the report and approved a $1 million for the design / build of the facility in 2015, and asked the working group to oversee the design.
The renewed Library will include these features with the exterior to follow the Town’s design guidelines for Civic Landmark Buildings (like Libraries): “Where additions or external alterations are proposed, the design should be sympathetic and subordinate to the heritage aspects of the buildings while clearly distinguishing between that which is new and old.”
The Maple Acre Library has been a part of Fenwick’s history and downtown since 1919. I am pleased that the Library’s redevelopment maintains that history and continues Council’s commitment for the ongoing revitalization of Downtown Fenwick. I hope this renewed community library will be enjoyed and cherished by generations to come.
You may contact Mayor Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.com .