North East officials express support for new town library
— A day before the public hearing for the fiscal year 2017 county budget, town officials expressed support for one particular budget item: a new town library.
Last summer, the county purchased 3.5 acres in the North East Station Shopping Center with plans to build a 45,000-square-foot facility for an estimated $14.85 million. Though the design phase of the project wasn’t originally slated for funding until 2019, town officials recently received news that the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget moves that up to 2018.
North East town officials said on Wednesday night that they’re hopeful the project remains on track for fiscal year 2018 funding, noting that the town has long needed a bigger facility.
Though North East’s population is similar to Elkton’s, its library is only one-tenth the size of Elkton’s branch library. Town officials recently met with the library board about the project, and Mayor Robert McKnight said the town is committed to supporting the project in
anyway it can.
“It’s a big deal, it’s a huge deal,” he said. “It’s a regional library that will serve at least 26,000 people. So we want to do what we can for it and be behind it.”
Town Administrator Melissa CookMacKenzie pointed out that North East already has many residents who are active in supporting the library.
“We are in a rich environment as far as supporters because we are the home of most of the civic league folks,” she said. “We also have a lot of residents who are members of the Friends of the Cecil County Public Library, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to educate those that aren’t familiar with this.”
Library officials updated the county council on its plans for a new North East branch in September, noting that of the 45,000 square feet, 30,000 would be for public use and 15,000 would be for the library administrative staff’s headquarters. Having the staff relocate from the Elkton Central Library would free up about 8,000 square feet there for additional public use.
Under the proposed timeline, a new North East branch wouldn’t be open for public use until 2021 or 2022.
The current North East branch library is about 2,800-square-feet, but the plans for its replacement call for a 45,000-square-foot central county headquarters.