$14 mil­lion build­ing to open in sum­mer 2019 in heart of down­town

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - FEATURES - BY JEFF LY­TLE

Bi­b­lio­philes will re­joice when Bonita Springs’ new and im­proved li­brary opens its doors in 2019. You’ll be sur­prised at all the new of­fer­ings that go way be­yond just check­ing out books.


be­comes “Read all about the extras!” as one of Bonita Springs’ old­est and most cher­ished in­sti­tu­tions gets a new home. The ven­er­a­ble pub­lic li­brary will move in the sum­mer of 2019 from Terry Street, where it has been lo­cated since 1976, to fa­cil­i­ties nearly three times larger in the heart of down­town.

The $14 mil­lion li­brary is be­ing con­structed at a site pro­vided by the city of Bonita Springs, at Childers Street and Felts Av­enue. The site is near the sher­iff’s sub­sta­tion and land­mark banyan tree. Co­in­ci­den­tally, the new lo­ca­tion is a stone’s throw from the 1953 found­ing site of the li­brary.

The most im­por­tant change is the ad­di­tion of a sec ond floor, al­low­ing chil­dren and teens to have their own des­ig­nated sec­tions. That should help them feel at home and en­joy ac­tiv­i­ties such as story times and video and board games with­out dis­turb­ing oth­ers.

That added space will al­low much larger at­ten­dance—up to 150 peo­ple, seated—at pro­grams such as book dis­cus­sions and civic meet­ings that now can han­dle fewer than 40 at­ten­dees. “Bonita loves and sup­ports its li­brary,” notes Jill Hor­rom, the pub­lic li­brary sys­tem’s se­nior su­per­vi­sor for south­ern Lee County. “We’re ex­cited about this project.”

Hor­rom says project plan­ners paid at­ten­tion to an ad­vance user sur­vey show­ing, among other things, that most pa­trons use the li­brary year-round at least once a week. Users tend to be more than 60 years old and well ed­u­cated. Pa­trons place pri­or­i­ties on us­ing the li­brary for en­ter­tain­ment and ed­u­ca­tion, and look for­ward to fur­ther on­line ser­vices, arts and crafts, book dis­cus­sions, com­puter classes, movies and other pre­sen­ta­tions—and even yoga.

The new lo­ca­tion, across the Old 41 main drag from Riverview Park and the Shangri-La re­sort, raises civic hopes that the mod­ern li­brary will be a cat­a­lyst for a long-awaited down­town re­nais­sance. Brand-new streets, round­abouts, street lights and drainage are in place.

“Those with busi­nesses and homes down­town are re­ally look­ing for­ward to hav­ing this cul­tural re­source lo­cated there,” says Bonita his­to­rian Char­lie Strader. “It should be an eco­nomic an­chor and a place for the com­mu­nity to learn and so­cial­ize.”

The venue is sure to draw a crowd. The Terry Street lo­ca­tion, si­t­u­ated among Bonita’s mid­dle school, re­cre­ation cen­ter com­plex and swim­ming pool, drew nearly 115,000 vis­its by pa­trons bor­row­ing nearly 300,000 items last year, Lee County records show. And the li­brary had to close down—be­cause of Hur­ri­cane

“The li­brary will serve as a great hub for our com­mu­nity.’’ — Tif­fany Es­pos­ito of the Bonita Springs Area Cham­ber of Com­merce

The most im­por­tant change is the ad­di­tion of a sec­ond floor, al­low­ing chil­dren and teens to have their own des­ig­nated sec­tions. “The city is thrilled to have part­nered with Lee County on a brand-new, state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity.’’ — Bonita Springs Mayor Peter Sim­mons

Irma flood dam­age that oc­curred in Septem­ber—un­til Dec. 26.

“It will likely at­tract 500 to 1,000 peo­ple per day down­town, and it will be de­signed in the ‘Old Florida’ style that is be­ing pro­moted in the down­town area,” com­ments Bonita Springs Mayor Peter Sim­mons. “It will be an an­chor for down­town.”

“The city is thrilled to have part­nered with Lee County on a brand­new, state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity,” the mayor adds. What will be­come of the Terry Street prop­erty is un­de­cided, Lee County of­fi­cials say.

Tif­fany Es­pos­ito, of the Bonita Springs Area Cham­ber of Com­merce, con­curs. “We are ex­cited about the new li­brary and the con­tin­ued growth of the down­town Bonita area,” she says. “The li­brary will serve as a great hub for our com­mu­nity.”


Area li­brary chief Hor­rom and Lee County’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor, Betsy Clay­ton, of­fer a pre­view of what's new for the li­brary: • Pup­pet show stage in the chil­dren’s sec­tion • A to­tal of 50 pub­lic-ac­cess com­put­ers, up from 39 cur­rently • Cov­ered drive-up area with au­to­mated re­turns for

books and other ma­te­ri­als • Study rooms with Skype ac­cess, each room for

four to eight teenagers • A con­fer­ence room seat­ing up to 20 peo­ple, for

non­profit and civic groups • Three sec­ond-floor bal­conies for re­laxed out­door read­ing • A land­scaped read­ing gar­den at ground level

Lee County Li­brary Sys­tem has 14 lo­ca­tions. The clos­est regional hub is South County in Es­tero, which was built in 1996. Ma­te­ri­als at all lo­ca­tions will con­tinue to be avail­able for bor­row­ing.

The new Bonita li­brary will go by the of­fi­cial ti­tle of: “Lee County Pub­lic Li­brary in Bonita Springs.” But for li­brary users—whether lo­cals, snow­birds or visi­tors—who are ea­ger for a brighter at­mos­phere and ad­di­tional ser­vices, the ti­tle will be just “Gr eat!”

Op­po­site page: A ren­der­ing of the west side of the new li­brary. This page: Bonita Springs’ first li­brary build­ing, circa 1953; the cur­rent li­brar y.

From top: A ren­der­ing of the east side of the new li­brary; a 1953 pa­rade in Bonita Springs fea­tur­ing a car ban­ner pro­mot­ing the first li­brar y; a de­tailed ren­der­ing of the li­brar y’s west side

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