Construction on a new Wake County Public Library next to Middle Creek High School will begin in the coming months after the Cary Town Council unanimously approved the site plan for the project Thursday, Sept. 3.
The council also approved allowing Wake County to waive the construction of a reclaimed water line that is required to meet town standards, an action that some council members referred to as a “gift” to the county. The waiver was approved with a 5-1 with council member Ed Yerha casting the dissenting vote.
In other business, the council unanimously approved a site plan for a new building on the SAS campus, allowing the business software company to move forward with construction on its 24th building.
The $3 million Middle Creek Community Library will be an 8,800-square-foot facility at the intersection of West Lake Road and Middle Creek Park Avenue on a portion of Middle Creek High School property. Although it will have an Apex address, the library will fall within Cary town limits.
“Libraries enhance the community by providing public access to computers, education opportunities to people of all ages, programming opportunities for children and access to various research and reading materials,” said Eric Sowers of Dan Huffman Architecture, who was representing Wake County in the discussion.
The council’s approval signals another milestone in the completion of the long-awaited project.
After voters approved a $45 million bond in 2007 to repair, replace and build new libraries in Wake County, including Middle Creek Community Library, the economic downturn delayed work.
Since the economy has improved, the Wake County Board of Commissioners allocated $500,000 for preliminary designs for libraries, including one in downtown Cary and one in the Middle Creek area.
In addition to approving the site plan, the council also debated a request from the county to waive all requirements pertaining to the water line extension because the library project will use about 3.7 acres of the 62-acre parcel owned by the Wake County Board of Education. The county would lease the segment for the library.
Steve Miller of CLH Design said he estimates the 1,300-foot extension would cost the county about $204,000 – roughly 6.6 percent of the project’s budget.
Ken Murphy, with the Wake County Attorney’s Office, said the added burden of the water line would reduce the scope or amenities offered at the library and could potentially affect future projects remaining from the 2007 bond referendum.
“Every tax dollar that is spent on requirements pertaining to the reclaimed water line would be one less tax dollar that could be spent to provide library books, equipment and services to the citizens of Cary and Wake County,” Murphy said.
While the connection would help service surrounding areas, it would not help the library, which already would have access from the water lines that were constructed when Middle Creek High was built in 2002.
Cary Town Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson questioned whether Cary taxpayers or Wake County taxpayers should bear the cost of the water line.
“If Wake County residents don’t pay for this part of their construction, then it falls on the burden of the citizens of Cary,” she said. “It doesn’t go away.”
Councilman Don Frantz said because the water line wouldn’t benefit the library, he supports waiving the water line extension requirement.
“I just think when there’s an opportunity to help, you know, let’s do what we can to help,” he said.
Yerha, the only council member to vote against the waiver, said he still believes the county should have to pay for the water line in advance, even if it isn’t constructed yet.
Because town staff said expect the cost of the water line construction would exceed the estimated $204,000, Robinson asked staff to find out the actual costs of what she called a town gift.
“I want it to be acknowledged that we have forfeited one of our standards for the sake of saving Wake County money for the purpose of this library,” she said. “We have to acknowledge the amount of money that we put into Wake County services.”
Construction will likely take about 12 months, and the building is expected to be constructed by 2016.
The council approved the plan for a nine-story, 415,000-square-foot building, known as Building A, at the intersection of SAS Campus Drive and Trenton Road. The new building will feature a full-service cafe and space for customer meetings.
The proposal includes several modifications, such as a reduction in required parking. SAS also committed to make an improvement to the intersection of North Harrison Avenue and the eastbound Interstate 40 exit ramp to improve traffic flow in the area.
Town Senior Planner Kevin Hales said the company has a few more steps to take before construction can begin, including completing the development review process and acquiring the necessary permits.
Earlier this year, SAS spokeswoman Shannon Heath said the company plans to erect Building A to accommodate future growth.
“We are pretty much at capacity across the campus,” she said. “As our revenue continues to grow, we are going to need space for customer meetings and future expansion.”
Kathryn Trogdon; 919-460-2608; @KTrogdon