Roanoke County Board of Supervisors approves funding for Vinton library design
VINTON– “The building of the proposed library in Vinton will put almost a quarter of a million people each year in downtown Vinton,” said Mike Altizer, Vinton’s representative to the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. “The new library will be a huge positive for the Town. It will kick-off downtown development and bring more business to our area.”
His statement is based on Roanoke County Library records that indicate that the current library had approximately 220,000 visits by citizens in the year that ended on June 30, 2012.
“It’s not just a building,” said Board member Charlotte Moore. “A new library in the downtown area will make a huge impact on the Town of Vinton. It will open a lot of doors.”
Altizer’s hopes for a revitalized Vinton took a step closer to reality when the Board of Supervisors voted on September 25 to approve a request to appropriate $567,900 for the procurement of architectural and engineering (A & E) design services for the proposed Vinton library.
Altizer will soon be inviting citizens to community meetings to give their input on what they want in a new library. Once there is some consensus, the County will accept bids for the design and the A & E phase will be underway.
“Hopefully we will choose someone who has experience specifically in library design,” said Altizer. “This will be the first library the County has built that is an urban library, actually located in a downtown area. We hope to have some of the amenities like the new South County Library has, although on a smaller scale.”
The funding for the initial phase of the proposed library couldn’t have come at a better time, with the recent awarding of a state grant of $700,000 this summer for downtown revitalization from the Community Development Block Grant program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. This grant money is earmarked for other improvements to the downtown area and not for the library construction project.
Altizer, along with Mayor Brad Grose, Town Manager Chris Lawrence, and Anita McMillan, Vinton’s Director of Planning and Zoning, attributed Vinton’s partnership with Roanoke County in the purchase of property downtown for a new public library as a significant factor in being awarded the grant.
Richard Flora, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, also praised the Town of Vinton for forming a partnership with the County to buy the land.
“The Town of Vinton put up money for the project which shows their good faith,” said Flora.
In 2011, the Town and County entered into an agreement to purchase the Dunman and Peters property in downtown Vinton in a partnership where each agreed to pay half of the purchase price, which was $1,255,000. Vinton will pay $627,500 for the property as its half over a ten year period.
At this point, Vinton has already paid $200,000, including the initial payment of $100,000 followed by two yearly payments of $50,000 each. The county will bear the entire construction cost of the new library building.
No funding stream has been identified for the project, although it is the next library project in the county’s capital improvements priorities list.
Diana Rosapepe, director of library services for the County, said the current Vinton branch on Washington Avenue, built in 1969, is the oldest in the county and the third-busiest behind the headquarters library and the Hollins branch. The new library will occupy about 20,000 square feet. The current Vinton branch is 9,400 square feet.
At a work session on capital improvement projects on September 11, Supervisor Michael Altizer asked that an item to appropriate funds for architecture and engineering for the Vinton library branch site be placed on the agenda for the next supervisors meeting on September 25.
A contingent of about 20 individuals representing the Town staff, Town Council, and citizens of Vinton attended the Board of Supervisors meeting to show their support for the project.
“Mike Altizer and Vinton Town Council are very hopeful that the Board of Supervisors will approve the beginning of the engineering and architecture monies for the library,” said Vice Mayor Wes Nance prior to the meeting. “If we are able to dovetail the building of the library and the use of the grant money that was recently awarded, you will see a powerful one-two punch of vitality. The end result will hopefully be a dynamic and prosperous downtown that retains the character that makes Vinton so special.”