The Cary Town Council imagines the town’s new library will be an iconic brick structure with large windows overlooking Downtown Park that is connected to surrounding attractions and encourages people to visit downtown.
“We want people going to the library, going to the park, going to the square, staying a while,” councilman Don Frantz said.
Wake County representatives requested feedback from council members at a Thursday, June 22, work session about how they want the future library and parking deck to look.
This is part of a joint plan between the town and the county to replace the 11,000-square-foot library on South Academy Street with a larger one on 3 acres at the corner of Walnut Street and Kildaire Farm Road. The county is providing most of the $7 million for the library while Cary is providing the land.
Steve Schuster, an architect with Clearscapes, a Raleigh design firm, asked council members about how transparent they want the structure to be, what materials they want to be used in its interior and exterior, if they want to use additional space in the building’s basement and more.
“Libraries, historically, can be one of the definers of a place,” he said, showing images of N.C. State University’s James B. Hunt Jr. Library. “The Hunt Library has transformed the image of N.C. State, not only as a research institution throughout the southwest but across the country.”
The 22,000- to 25,000-square-foot Cary library will be two floors plus a basement. As a regional library, it would offer additional programming, a large multipurpose room and an increased volume of books. The county plans to begin construction in the summer of 2017 and open the library November 2018.
Council members indicated their vision for the building includes a structure that has a strong presence while still complementing the adjacent Downtown Park and Cary Arts Center.
“I want something that respects the context, but it looks like a building that was built today,” councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said. “... Maybe a patio in an upper story so people could go out with a book on this patio and overlook the park.”
Council members considered using wood inside the library, similar to how the material is used in the Chapel Hill Public Library. Frantz suggested representatives return with several ideas to see if wood would be suitable inside Cary’s new library.
“Chapel Hill’s library’s use of wood makes for a warm and inviting space,” Schuster said.
They also want warm lighting to emanate from the structure’s large windows.
When the council was shown an image of a mostly glass structure, Robinson said, “No, that looks like an ice cube.”
Schuster also asked if the council would be interested in using additional space in the building’s basement. Council members leaned toward constructing shell space for future needs for an estimated $50,000 to $150,000 or restrooms for $165,000 to $225,000. Visitors could access the restrooms directly from Downtown Park.
“I think restrooms would be incredibly desirable to keep people from crossing the street to go to the (Cary) Arts Center to find a restroom,” Frantz said.
He said restrooms likely would be constructed in future phases of Downtown Park, but that may not happen for five or more years.
The open and welcoming feel that council members seek extends to the 350-space parking deck next door. Robinson suggested having the staircases in the parking deck be wide with windows to make it a more open and inviting space.
Cary will pay an estimated $7.15 million for the parking deck plus an additional $1.2 million for a stormwater system that will serve the entire block, including the future Downtown Park. Wake County will contribute $1 million for parking.
Wake County staff will return at an July work session with design options for the library and parking deck based on council’s feedback, as well as more information about possible basement uses.
Tom Drugan and Laura Haddad of Haddad|Drugan, a Seattle-based studio selected to design the integrated art for the deck, also will return with options for integrated public art based on council feedback from a previous meeting.
Cameron Pond Neighborhood Park
A few council members made one more attempt to fund a master plan for Cameron Pond Neighborhood Park, a possible park in western Cary, as part of the recommended fiscal year 2016-17 budget. Robinson made the motion because she was unable to attend the last work session when it was discussed.
“I wasn’t able to vote on a matter that I think may have gone a different way if I was here,” she said.
A motion made Tuesday to fund a master plan for Cameron Pond Park failed 4-3 with Robinson and council members Ed Yerha and Ken George in favor of appropriating $100,000 for the master plan.
“I think staff has done a great job working with the finances that we have available and doing the due diligence that they have done to determine that Morris Branch (Neighborhood Park) would be a lower cost and would serve more people,” Frantz said.
The council may discuss the park again at a work session in October. It could be funded in the future by a possible 2018 bond referendum.
“I would really like to look at it cohesively in October with some of the other parks that we honestly put on the shelf,” councilwoman Lori Bush said. “I’d like to put them all on the table and do them all at the same time in a cohesive manner.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608, @KTrogdon