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Village of Hamburg board hears update on library expansion project

An expansion of the Hamburg Public Library, a project that will cost an estimated $2.1 million, will give the facility an updated, state-of-the-art look that includes substantial growth of the site to go along with the addition within of a coffee shop, fireplace and sky lights.

And, as Hamburg Public Library Director Jack Edson stated prior to Monday’s (March 18) Hamburg Village Board meeting, the project will push the nearly 50-year-old library to having the visibility of being “on the map” as a local landmark for residents to enjoy.

Incorporating green space and walkability for locals within the library’s site parameters are also important parts of the project’s design.

According to a project architect representative, site work is tentatively slated to begin in late summer, with the construction of at least an enclosed shell to take place following project bids being directed in June. Zaxis Architectural had been selected by Hamburg’s Library Board of Trustees for project design.

According to Edson, some reasons for project work included the library’s air conditioning systems needing replacement, as well as improvements being necessary to the heating system on site. Additional items included needing an updated accessibility ramp, to replace the current, oft-changed ramp, to go along with enlarging the technology area and the meeting room. Thus, noted changes as part of project work will include upsizing the overall library size from 9,900 square feet to 16,000 square feet; establishing a large multipurpose room, indoor accessibility ramp, and updated infrastructure for Internet purposes; constructing designated children and “teen” spaces, a coffee shop, fireplace and sky lights; implementing green space around a circular design, while replacing the existing site sidewalk that leads to the centralized main entrance; adding two handicapped parking spaces; and renovating library bathrooms.

A “Secret Garden” was defined as a projected reading area outside, to be protected by a wall surrounding. It was added that trucks making deliveries of books and other items will still have access to designated routes of incoming travel at the site.

Edson, who has worked at the library since 1986, said the various enhancements will make the location “a more inviting library” for local residents. He stated,that it is the aim of library officials to keep operating costs as close to current expenditures as possible, by incorporating energy conservation. Edson added that the New York State Division of Library Development supports the project concepts.

The library is currently open 60 hours per week, with the inclusion even of designated Sunday hours. Despite the slated project work, Edson stated that the library will remain open provisionally during the noted expansion. Current data includes 233,000 materials being checked out on a yearly basis at the library, to go along with 21,000 computer sessions being offered.

Project expansion ideas for the site were formulated around two years ago, when Hamburg’s Library Board of Trustees attended a training seminar in Pittsford in regards to New York State Library Construction Grant projects. It was thus determined by the board of trustees that 50 percent of matching grant funds could be garnered toward related project work. The board of trustees then approached the Hamburg Town Board and presented the findings, and an application was submitted in September toward obtaining a Library Construction Grant.

Hamburg Town Supervisor Steven Walters, who was in attendance at Monday’s library presentation, described the slated site renovation as a welcome change for the library, which has existed on Buffalo Street since 1966.

“It’s working toward walkability and (embracing the) community in the village,” said Walters. “It incorporates a unique design, as well as a historic design.”

Village Board Trustee Laura Hackathorn compared the addition of a coffee shop within the library to a cozy, “Borders type of atmosphere,” adding that she’s looking forward to the finished project layout.

“I’m thrilled that the project design is (rising above) what the average library would be,” said Hackathorn.

Hamburg Village Mayor Thomas J. Moses Sr. commended the efforts of Edson and the library board of trustees for helping to push forward the project. The mayor added that he welcomes the concept of green space and walkability being incorporated at the site.

“It’s a big selling point,” Moses said of the aforementioned items.

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