The start of the Safety Harbor Library Project is “getting closer,” according to city officials, as work is expected to begin on the long awaited second story in the next few months.
City Manager Matt Spoor said the Technical Review Committee met recently to review the project plans, and after making a “few minor changes” they would have to come before the Planning and Zoning Board and then the City Commission for final approval.
The library addition might begin in September 2023
“Our goal is to have the contractor on board and ready to build by September,” Spoor said, noting they prefer to do the work after summer break. “The library’s busiest months are when school is out, and portions of the first floor will have to inaccessible due to the construction above, so our goal is to break ground as soon as the kids go back to school.”
Spoor explained the Safety Harbor Library Foundation’s 20/20 Vision—Let’s Build a Story project was supposed to be finished in 2020, which was reflected in the name. “The original goal was to have it built in 2020, but then COVID hit, triggering all the construction setbacks,” he said. “So now we will start the project at the end of 2023.”
Spoor noted the delays “bought us three more fiscal years to save for a project that we originally budgeted at $2 million and is now up around to around three-ish.”
While the pandemic set everyone back in many ways, library officials understood patience was the best way to navigate what was an extremely difficult time when it came to the project. “During the pandemic library staff learned to how to adapt programs to stay safe, create opportunities for take home kits and other programs and used outdoor spaces to our advantage,” longtime Safety Harbor Public Library Director Lisa Kothe said last week via email. “But most of all we learned patience.”
Library raises half million dollars for new tech and furniture
Kothe said the SHLF dropped the “2020” from their campaign slogan and pivoted to fundraising to reach its goal of raising $500,000 for technology and furniture for the second floor. “The foundation will continue to host fundraisers, including our Links for the Library, on Feb. 4, the return of the “do-over” prom for adults in August, and an interactive mystery dinner theater in the future,” Kothe wrote, adding the foundation’s annual membership drive starts in March, “providing an effortless way to support the foundation.”
Kothe agreed the fall start of construction “will allow library staff to focus on summer reading programs for all ages before construction starts, when space to hold the events will be limited.” She added, the highly popular Safety Harbor Library, a literal cornerstone of the community at 101 Second St. N., will celebrate its 85th birthday this year during National Library Week in April, and she encouraged people to visit SafetyHarborlibrary.com “to keep appraised of library sponsored events, online resources, and to browse our catalog.”