Betesey Katiti and Rosie Engman met with representatives of County Executive Ike Leggett on August 26 to discuss the proposal. The aides to Leggett were Office of Community Partnerships Director Bruce Adams, and Executive Director of the Montgomery County Criminal Justice Commission and former County Council member Mike Subin, they said. Last night, the proposal was brought to the attention of County Department of General Services Director David Dise, at a community meeting to update residents on the project.
|New renderings of the|
gym at the future
Wheaton Library and
The proponents of the Mandela idea say it would be appropriate because they found the largest ethnic group that utilizes the existing Wheaton library is Ethiopian. In addition to the name of the site, they've proposed raising private funds for a life-size statue of Mandela to be placed at the library, and to have County public school students create artworks based on Mandela and his life for display within the building.
A variety of other issues were discussed at last night's meeting.
Some residents expressed concern at the underground parking garage proposed for the building. "I would not feel safe in an underground parking lot," one parent said. DGS staff said the garage roof will be built higher than usual, will eliminate as many columns as possible for better visibility, and will be painted white. The elevator room to the building above will be glassed-in for safety. There will be no guard on duty, but a gate will prevent access to the garage after hours.
"To the extent that a parking garage can be a pleasant experience, at least make it a safe one," Dise said.
There will be 60 surface spaces, 170 garage spaces, a few short-term spaces near the entrance, and overflow parking will be across Arcola Avenue at the Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department.
|A resident asks|
a question at last
In response to concerns that tires would be among the recycled materials used in the new building, Dise said "we are not backtracking on that," and said DGS is aware of that concern by residents who have indoor air quality concerns.
One resident asked if the hanging sculpture would return in the new library. Yes it will - in the atrium.
answers a question
Many felt the new bookstore space was too small. Dise acknowledged that some corners had to be cut in order to keep the building footprint from crossing into the utility right-of-way that now lies beneath Hermitage Avenue, a street that will be closed at Georgia to make room for the outdoor recreational facilities at the future library/rec center. But shelving will be taller, and the space much nicer. "We do have staff working on trying to duplicate that musty smell," Dise joked.
Several residents said the crossing of Georgia Avenue is currently too dangerous at Arcola. Dise said there is little the County can do to change that, unless the Maryland State Highway Administration agrees to changes. Fencing, berms and landscaping will be utilized to prevent soccer balls from flying out onto Georgia Avenue.
While there is no firm date yet for the closure of the library, it could happen by mid-2016. The new Wheaton Library and Recreation Center building is expected to open in mid-2018.
"Let me tell you, this building is going to be a destination," Dise promised.