They don’t need a “Hundred Acre Wood,” but the search for a suitable location of a new Richmond Hill library continues.
Bryan County commissioners at their meeting Tuesday heard from Jennifer Durham, director of the Statesboro Regional Public Libraries, that although library funding was recently approved by the Georgia Legislature, the Richmond Hill project was not on the list to receive funds for fiscal 2017 beginning July 1.
Durham said finding a location for a new library would help move Bryan County up the priority list because of the availability of local tax money and a rapid growth rate in the Richmond Hill area.
Some $1.68 million in SPLOST money has been set aside for a new library, and if approved another $2 million would come from the state.
“We’ve progressed about as far as we can without having a site,” Durham said. “Having one would go a long way toward getting state funding.”
Durham said a new library, which would take about two years start to finish, would be roughly 24,000 square feet with room to expand by an additional 24,000 square feet.
“Ideally this would be a stand-alone facility with enough parking for 240 vehicles,” Durham said. “That means we’re looking at about 7.5 acres to have enough room for a setback and any water retention or detention areas.”
Commissioners had studied the parcel of land to the north of the County Administration Building on Capt. Matthew Freeman Drive but found it was too low. County Administrator Ben Taylor said it would cost $160,000 per acre just to get the land ready to build on.
“Finding property at a reasonable cost around here is not easy,” Board of Commissioners Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said.
One location that had been mentioned in the past was within the town center that Richmond Hill plans to develop on Highway 144 at Timber Trail, but Durham isn’t sure that would work for several reasons.
“We really want something with frontage that’s visible because of the number of newcomers and visitors,” Durham said. “And the population growth, traffic patterns and new schools show that the population center of South Bryan is shifting farther out, more toward the county building.”
Durham said one this is for certain though — the current library on Ford Avenue cannot be the site of the new facility. The structure has gone through two major renovations since 1976 and is basically three separate buildings “stitched together with stucco and mortar.”
The location, which is prime commercial real estate, was originally given to the county for the specific purpose of a library. Burnsed said commissioners would look into any deed restrictions about the sale of the property.