The location of the new Powell branch of the Delaware County District Library is on track to be revealed this month.
Since the library convinced voters to renew a 1-mill levy in November, leaders have been working to decide on a site for a new Powell branch.
Late in 2018, a development at the northwest corner of Home and Steitz roads became an intriguing option for the public when developer John Wicks approached Powell's planning and zoning commission with the idea of incorporating a library.
At the time, library Director George Needham said the site "does tick off a lot of boxes" but wasn't "a done deal" and would need to be considered along with several other potential locations before the library would commit to the site.
Since then, the library's board of trustees has met multiple times. At a Feb. 19 meeting, Needham said, the board narrowed its focus to two locations: the Home and Steitz development and "one we can't talk about."
Needham said the second site is "still kind of confidential" and won't be shared unless it is chosen to be the library site.
He said the process now will go to an architectural firm, which the library hired to assess both sites.
"It's looking for things like zoning issues, any history of problems with the site -- all that kind of stuff," he said. "It's just to get a third party looking at them and making sure we're not stepping into something unexpected."
Needham said he expects the board to make a final decision at its March 19 meeting, "unless both sites come back saying 'Indian burial ground' or 'former plutonium site' or something like that."
Though Needham reiterated there's no "front-runner," he said the Home and Steitz project does have momentum.
"We've had a lot of public discussion and support for the Home and Steitz site, so it's probably been the most visible one," he said. "It has a lot of things going for it, so it would probably be foolish to say it's not the favorite. But we have to do our due diligence, too."
Both the developer and the city of Powell hope that momentum is maintained through the review process.
The city already has begun annexing the land for the project in the hopes that it will contain a library site, and during a Feb. 5 meeting, members of Powell's development committee made it clear the project was less appealing without the library.
Glen Dugger, an attorney with Columbus firm Smith and Hale LLC, which is representing the developers, agreed.
"We're holding our breath on the library because it will be easier for everyone involved," he said. "There is a plan B, but plan A is much better."
Once the decision on a site is made, Needham said the library won't rush the process of planning the building itself.
He said if all goes well, he would like to see an architect and construction manager chosen in late spring or early summer, hold public meetings in the summer and have plans finalized by the end of the year, "so that we break ground next spring and open in 2021."
Needham expects the process to be a deliberate and careful one, with as much community input as possible.
"This is something that the community is paying for," he said. "We've got almost 100 years of experience running libraries, but we want to be sure we're not basing this just on our own prejudice and experience.
"What we want to do is make sure we're meeting the needs of the community we're serving there, so we'll be looking for what kind of things the community members in that area value."