News & Events

The final push to finish and fund a new library

Progress-Index- March 5, 2014

The final push for a new library in Petersburg is on.

The fund-raising campaign for the construction of the new Petersburg Public Library is now just a little under $200,000 of its goal. So far, the Petersburg Library Foundation has raised about $12.5 million for the roughly $12.7 million project, according to Bob Walker, president of the library’s foundation.

The library is expected to open in April, according to Walker. Simply put, the new library could very well be a game changer in Petersburg by providing a multifunctional gathering space that will enrich the city in many ways.

As part of it’s community focus, the new library features about three times more space devoted to children’s programs on its lower level than the current 1,000 square feet in the William R. McKenney central branch. The current space in the central branch is also shared with other library group programs.

A cafe and gift shop will be located downstairs in the new library. Community outreach programs such as the READ Center will have dedicated classroom and study spaces upstairs. The nonprofit focuses on promoting adult literacy. There will be 60 computers designated for public use. The current central library has only about 25 computers, which forced many patrons to wait in line.

Also, the library is expected to have space for the Healthy Living and Learning Center, a partnership between the Petersburg Public Library System, the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, The center is a key part of the city’s effort to combat obesity, other diseases and to promote healthier lifestyles.

So the new library is more than a library – it is a central place that will play a key role in adult literacy, children’s programs and early education, providing computer technology to those who don’t have it, a resource for entrepreneurs and job seekers and promoting healthy living.

It truly is a building for the betterment of the community. And the community – from school children to individuals to businesses – have rallied to raise money for the library. “The community has really been a big supporter of this thing, from children raising pennies, to churches and sororities,” Walker said.

But a final push is needed to raise the last dollars. We as a community are almost there.

A groundbreaking for the 45,000-square-foot library – which is several times larger and vastly more modern than the present building on South Sycamore Street – was held in April 2012. There have been several delays in the opening due to weather-related construction setbacks and challenges in rasing money.

But the time for a great new community gathering space is almost upon us. It’s been a long time coming, but when people walk through the doors of the new Petersburg Public Library they will quickly learn that the wait and the effort was worth it.

Ettrick Neighborhood & Business Foundation Donates $10,000 to Library Capital Campaign

Ettrick Neighborhood & Business Foundation President Sterlin Hawkins and Vice-President Nancy Ross were on hand to view the final phases of construction on the new Petersburg library and present a check for $10,000 to the Petersburg Library Foundation (PLF). The Ettrick Neighborhood & Business Foundation’s mission is ‘dedicated in providing resources that will improve the overall quality of life to our Ettrick neighborhood.’

Pictured left to right: Bob Walker-PLF Chairman, Ann Taylor-PLF Vice-Chairwoman, Sterlin Hawkins, Nancy Ross & Wayne Crocker-PLF Secretary & Director of Library Services

Pictured left to right: Bob Walker-PLF Chairman, Ann Taylor-PLF Vice-Chairwoman, Sterlin Hawkins, Nancy Ross & Wayne Crocker-PLF Secretary & Director of Library Services

A final push for Petersburg’s new library

Progress-Index by Leah Small (Staff Writer)

imagePETERSBURG – The needle has moved to a little under $200,000 in the final push to raise money for the construction of the new Petersburg Public Library. So far, the Petersburg Library Foundation has raised about $12.5 million for the roughly $12.7 million project according to Bob Walker, president of the library’s foundation.

Walker said that he expects the library to open in April.

He added that once the library opens, the multifunctional gathering space will enrich the city.

“It’s about the community. It’s more than just a place to put books, it’s going to be a learning center,” Walker said.

As part of it’s community focus, the new library features about three times more space devoted to children’s programs on its lower level than the current 1,000 square feet in the William R. McKenney central branch. The current space in the central branch is also shared with other library group programs.

A cafe and gift shop will be located downstairs in the new library. Community outreach programs such as the READ Center will have dedicated classroom and study spaces upstairs. The nonprofit focuses on promoting adult literacy. There will be 60 computers designated for public use. The William R. McKenney branch only had 25, which forced many patrons to wait in line.

Walker also said that the library was built to last, with rooms that can be converted for different purposes.

“It’s a very flexible building, 30 years from now things will change, so it’s built to last 50 years,” Walker said.

But construction of the building has had its challenges.

In summer 2013, library officials said they expected the new building open in fall 2013. Wayne Crocker, the city’s library director, said that a high number of rainy days stalled construction. In December 2013, the Petersburg Library Foundation Fund Development Officer Cheryl Collins said the new facility was scheduled for a late February 2014 opening. Now, Walker said that the library is expected to open in April of this year.

Walker added that the opening has been moved because the difficulty of finding funds, and weather delays due to snow and ice.

He also said that coming across and removing older items – such as bottles and artifacts – from previous uses of the site have also slowed construction.

But Walker said that money was the biggest factor in the delays and that original plans for the building have been changed because of funding.

The new library will no longer feature an archive room in the basement, or a fountain. Plans for a 300-seat multipurpose room have also been put on hold, but Walker said that space is available for the multipurpose room if it’s needed after the library opens.

The project’s two largest donors have been the city, with a more than $5 million investment, and the Cameron Foundation with a $2.7 million donation.

But Walker said that fundraising has also been a grass roots effort.

“The community has really been a big supporter of this thing, from children raising pennies, to churches and sororities,” Walker said.

Library Rising in the Heart of the Tri-Cities (Jan 2014 issue of Reaching new heights)

RNHMagArticle

Cameron doles out $800,000 for city library, Halifax redevelopment

Progress-Index Staff Reports, Published: January 18, 2014

PETERSBURG – Two major grants will help the city become a better place to live and learn, the Cameron Foundation announced Friday. The Better Housing Coalition will receive $500,000 for a redevelopment project in the Halifax Street area, while the Petersburg Library Foundation will accept $300,000 toward their fundraising campaign for the city’s new library.

It is not the first time the foundation has lent a helping hand to the redevelopment project.

“We were pleased with the success that resulted from that collaborative effort,” Board Chair Larry C. Tucker said in a statement. “The Better Housing Coalition’s stewardship of those resources supported our decision to invest in Phase II,” he added. The foundation gave BHC $100,000 in the October 2012 grant cycle, $200,000 in March 2011, and $220,000 in October 2009.

The BHC first teamed up with the Restoration of Petersburg Community Development Corp., started by the Rev. Dr. Robert Diggs of Tabernacle Baptist Church, to construct the Claiborne Square senior apartment complex. The 47-unit, $6.6 million project opened in 2012 to provide quality housing for local, low-income seniors. Phase II is even more ambitious – replacing 21 largely dilapidated properties on Porterville, Gresset and Hartley streets with 40 modern one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with off-street parking.

The project received a nod in December 2013, when Petersburg City Council approved rezoning 23 properties for Phase II.

The Cameron Foundation’s cash will go toward onsite improvements such as lighting, grading, curb cuts for handicapped ramps, a playground, rain gardens and landscaping, according to a statement. The cash injection will help BHC and ROPCDC compete for critical low income housing tax credits early this year, J. Todd Graham, Cameron Foundation president, said. Both projects presented an urgency to act outside of their usual grant cycle.

The new Petersburg Public Library, nearing completion at West Washington and Market streets downtown, has also received ample support from the grantmaker. The library project has received $2.7 million from the foundation, second only to the city’s $5 million investment.

“The community has really rallied around this project with its financial support, underscoring just how important it is,” Graham said. “We hope this additional grant helps the Petersburg Library Foundation quickly wrap up the campaign, open the doors to the new library and begin providing the many valued services to the community that it has planned.”

A groundbreaking for the 45,000-square-foot library – which is several times larger and vastly more modern than the present building on South Sycamore Street – was held in April 2012.

“This gift is going to help us leverage the remaining $200,000 that we need to close out the campaign,” said Spokeswoman Cheryl Collins. Between their community campaign and New Market Tax Credits, the final tally will be close to $14.5 million, she said.

A grand opening is now expected in April, delayed by weather factors.

“We want to make sure we do the project right,” Collins said.

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