A deadline is quickly approaching for downtown supporters to make their case for the Fuquay-Varina library to stay downtown.
Wake County is paying for a new library in Fuquay-Varina and likely will choose a location at the county commissioners’ Feb. 1 meeting. In the meantime, Fuquay-Varina officials are expected to hear a final update from county staffers at the town’s Jan. 19 meeting. Town leaders likely will tell the staff their preferences for the library’s location.
The county has identified three possible locations. The library could remain at its current location on South Fuquay Avenue. That property is downtown, next to a park and is established, but it’s too small for the building size that county and town leaders want.
A second site is downtown between the two downtown districts. The third location, which is seen by many as the most likely because of the land size, is on Judd Parkway east of downtown, near the post office and south of Town Hall.
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The current 50-year-old library, at 4,400 square feet, is one of the smallest in Wake County. The expansion could double the size of the library and add thousands of new books and other titles.
And because Fuquay-Varina has one of Wake County’s most active library-going populations, the location choice is an important one at a time where fewer people are visiting libraries to check out books, look up reference materials, attend special programs or use the computers.
For the private Fuquay-Varina Downtown Revitalization Association, retaining a downtown library is a key goal.
“We have a particular interest in this, because it is likely the library will move from downtown,” said Don Curry, chairman of the group’s executive board.
Mayor John Byrne said keeping the library downtown is also important to town officials, but not so important that they would fight against the Judd Parkway location.
“The town really wants to have a site that there will be a regional library here,” Byrne said. “It appears that can be done, and I think that’s the most important thing. The second most important thing is it’s located downtown.”
The downtown association prefers the second option – the open land between the Fuquay downtown district on Main Street and the Varina downtown district on Broad Street.
A group of consultants who studied downtown in 2015 said there needs to be a better link between the two downtown areas. Curry said a library between the two could be that link.
But Curry and Byrne said it’s unclear if the landowners would be willing to let it be used for the library.
A decision must be made soon so the county can use funding approved from a 2007 bond referendum for library construction.
“I think the main (issue) is the site that you’re talking about, if it’s able to be acquired in time,” Byrne told Curry at the town’s Jan. 4 meeting.
Curry said the downtown association won’t object to any library location the county picks, even though downtown is the first priority.
“A new library is still an asset” no matter where it is, he said. “And we would treat it as such.”
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran