Home / Business / Safety Harbor Library Ramps Up Expansion Plans

Safety Harbor Library Ramps Up Expansion Plans

Safety Harbor Public Library is located at 205 2nd Street N. in downtown Safety Harbor.
Safety Harbor Public Library is located at 205 2nd Street N. in downtown Safety Harbor.

It’s election season in Safety Harbor, which means everyone is taking sides on the issues affecting the town.

But there’s one subject Harborites always seem to agree on, no matter their affiliation: the Safety Harbor Public Library.

In fact at the recent candidate forum, all four City Commission candidates – Joe Ayoub, Janet Hooper, Chris Logan and Andy Zodrow – expressed their appreciation and support for the city’s library.

“I love it,” Seat 3 challenger Joe Ayoub said in response to a question about the library.

“I completely support it and think we should be looking at ways to constantly improve the library and make it better for all the residents to enjoy.”

“My grandfather always used to say you can always tell a lot about a community by looking at its library,” Seat 3 incumbent Andy Zodrow replied. “That’s one of the things that, honestly, drew me to this town.”

“I definitely want to support the library and see it grow.”

The kind of bipartisan support is going to be crucial going forward, as library officials will present their plans for an expansion of the Second Street South facility to the current city commission tonight.

Safety Harbor Public Library
An expansion plan would add a second floor above this section of the Safety Harbor Public Library.

“In December 2014 the Safety Harbor Library Foundation, the Friends of the Safety Harbor Library, and the Library Advisory Committee held a joint meeting to discuss the vision for construction of a second floor meeting room facility at the Safety Harbor Library,” the notes for tonight’s agenda item state.

“All three groups unanimously supported the efforts to begin city and community awareness to support: A 20/20 Vision – Let’s Build a Story.”

According to library director Lisa Kothe, work on the expansion won’t begin until October 2020, when the loans from the library’s prior expansion in 2008-09 will be paid off.

“Work on this expansion won’t begin until five years down the road, when the bonds from the previous expansion are paid off,” Kothe told Safety Harbor Connect.

“So we can’t do anything until then, but we’re trying to get everyone on board now so five years out we can start construction right away.”

Officials estimate the cost of the expansion at $1.7 million in today’s dollars, but that number is expected to rise by the time construction starts.

Kothe explained the library’s three branches hope to raise around $300,000 for furnishings such as computers, tables and chairs, etc…, while the remaining funding will come from a combination of loans and grants.

She added that the expansion is necessary due to the explosion in popularity of the facility.

“Our meeting rooms are booked every night,” she explained. “We have to turn people away at times because library events take precedent.”

“This expansion gives us the best opportunity to have more events at the library and accommodate more organizations, groups and residents.”

The Safety Harbor City Commission will hear the presentation for the library expansion during their regularly scheduled bimonthly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.


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