The new Delaware County District Library branch in Powell is shaping up.

The library's board of trustees approved a conceptual design and cost estimate for the new branch at a virtual meeting held June 16. Trustees also approved the purchase of the land on which the library will be built.

The library system's fifth branch will be on 3.7 acres at the northwest corner of the intersection of Home and Steitz roads, in a development to be known as Middlebury Crossing.

Although the design and cost are not fixed, library director George Needham said, these approvals allow project architects SHP and construction manager at-risk Marker to proceed with technical drawings and, eventually, presentation to Powell's planning and zoning commission.

"It is a lovely, traditional design that will fit into the community," board vice president Holly Quaine said. "It mirrors the community and the community's values. (The community) has told us what they need in this building, and we're responding to those needs."

The approved design is for a three-floor, 42,000-square-foot library. The cost estimate is just above $14 million, including the land purchase.

"The overall cost is higher than we originally expected, but we have also planned a bigger building that will meet the needs of our growing community," Needham said. "This estimate is actually slightly lower than my original estimate of $300 per square foot, but we are planning a building that is roughly 42,000 square feet, rather than the 20,000 to 25,000 square feet we originally envisioned.

"The extra space will allow us to have a good-sized meeting room for public events, a maker space and room for the Friends of the Library book sales and other projects," he said

Needham said many of these design features were suggested during a series of public meetings intended to help determine the services and spaces desired by residents.

"We added square footage to this plan so that we could provide the features that people told us they wanted: lots of natural light, space for reading, separate areas for kids and adults, quiet meeting and study spaces. Getting this input is why we held the meetings.

"We can make assumptions about features but actually having the people who will be using the space tell us what they want is invaluable."

Quaine called the plan a "responsible design" that is "neither over or under budget."

Library fiscal officer Angela Cox told members of the board's ad hoc Liberty Township branch committee June 9 that the library most likely would have to borrow some money to finance the project.

The approved timeline for the work anticipates construction to begin later this year, with the new branch set to open in 2021.

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