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Library system will break ground on new north Fulton branches
by Nicole Dow
July 24, 2013 11:39 AM | 3203 views | 1 1 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Erin Gray<br>From left, Friends of Milton Library president Matt Kunz along with members Karen Thurman, Bob Meyers and Mercy Vennel at the site where the new Milton Library will be built.
Staff / Erin Gray
From left, Friends of Milton Library president Matt Kunz along with members Karen Thurman, Bob Meyers and Mercy Vennel at the site where the new Milton Library will be built.
Construction will soon start on three new north Fulton libraries, which are set to open next year.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the East Roswell library at 2301 Holcomb Bridge Road will take place Aug. 1 at 11 a.m. The branch will likely open sometime next summer.

Construction for new branches in Milton and Alpharetta will begin this fall, but dates for groundbreaking ceremonies have not yet been determined. The two libraries are expected to open in the fall of 2014.

The projects are part of phase I of the county library system’s $275 million building program, which consists of 10 projects — eight new libraries and two expanded libraries.

“I am so excited to see the expanded library service the community envisioned during the facility planning process come to fruition,” said Anne Haimes, the system’s interim library director. “Each of these libraries incorporates features and services unique to its community based on patron input.”

The 15,200-square-foot East Roswell branch, designed by KHAFRA Engineering Consultants and Holzheimer Bolek Meehan Architects, will be made from natural materials such as stone and wood and will have large glass windows to connect patrons with the wooded surroundings. The grounds will include a connection to walking and cycling trails and space for outdoor programs.

Each library project will contain a public art project. At the East Roswell branch, Atlanta artist Chris Condon will create whimsical carved stone and wood sculptures depicting trees, birds, deer and other wildlife. The public art projects for the Milton and Alpharetta branch have yet to be selected.

The 25,000-square-foot branch in Milton, at 855 Mayfield Road, was designed by Stevens & Wilkinson and 720 Design to fit in with the Crabapple community. The branch features a porch overlooking a community green and a historic oak.

The Alpharetta branch, designed by Cooper Carry and Vines Architecture, will be part of Alpharetta’s new City Center development close to the new city hall, a park and commercial space downtown.

The two-story, 25,000-square-foot building will include a 2,000-square-foot tiered auditorium and a 700-square-foot conference room that can be divided in two.
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Joe Ziegler
August 15, 2013
Fulton County, GA

In Atlanta, with at least three new libraries expected to open next year and five more facilities to follow, Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts said he has a message for anyone concerned that county officials have yet to earmark funds for staffing and other operational expenses.

“We are going to fund those libraries,” Pitts told LJ in a telephone interview, “do not worry. There’s no possible scenario that this money will not be found. The voters have spoken loud and clear. And we’re going to keep our promises.”

But, Pitts admitted, as of now that money has not been found yet.

Ground was broken recently on the new Wolf Creek Branch in Atlanta, and that site will probably be the first of “three or four” new branches to open in 2014, Pitts said. About $2.5 million will be needed to fund those facilities, he added.

A bond referendum passed by voters in 2008 earmarked $275 million for a massive building program split into two phases. The first covers construction of eight new libraries and the expansion of two current branches. Once phase one is complete, 23 more existing facilities will be renovated.

With 34 branches and some 2.3 million items in its collection, the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System (AFPLS) serves metro Atlanta and surrounding communities with an overall population of about 1 million people. The library system had 3.9 million visitors in 2012, up five percent from the previous year.

Anne Haimes, director of the library for AFPLS, noted the eight new facilities will replace eight smaller and outdated branches, keeping the total number of branches at 34. Some existing staff can be transferred to these new sites, helping ease funding needs.

“This doesn’t grow our system,” Haimes said, “it repositions our system with targeted flexibility that suit our current needs and help us better serve our community.”

Fulton County officials do have some obvious budget obstacles to work around. The county is required by law to adopt a balanced budget each year. Another recent law prevents county commissioners from raising property values over the next two years. “We are going to challenge that,” Pitts said.

Pitts identified the county’s justice system, health and human services, and libraries as “core” funding priorities. He did not, however, speculate on how money might be freed to operate each new branch as it goes online. “We need to begin to be more specific,” he acknowledged, “because the clock is ticking.”

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