Berlin Waives Fees For New Library

BERLIN–Town officials agreed to waive permitting fees associated with the construction of the Worcester County Library’s new Berlin branch.

The Berlin Town Council voted unanimously Monday to waive $26,727 in permitting and electric installation fees for the new library. Construction on the project is expected to begin this spring.

“It looks like it’s going to be a great addition to the town,” Councilman Zack Tyndall said.

The library, to be built on a six-acre parcel on Harrison Avenue, will replace the existing outdated facility on Main Street. Worcester County Library Director Jennifer Ranck said that the new high performance building had been designed with the needs of the community in mind. The 12,000 square foot, two-story building will feature plenty of community space, expanded areas for children and teens, a maker space and more. The new building, expected to cost $6 million, will be funded with state and local contributions as well as with financial support from the Worcester County Library Foundation.

The foundation has raised $425,000 so far and hopes to add to that through its “Bricks to Books” program, which enables patrons to purchase bricks engraved with quotes, book titles or names of loved ones. They’ll be installed in the library’s garden and book-walk areas during construction.

Ranck told the council she’d be approaching the Worcester County Commissioners later this month with final price estimates for the project. She said she was asking the town to waive the permitting costs in an effort to keep the project as affordable as possible.

“The library’s looking for ways to reduce costs in order for this proposal to be successful,” she said.

Ranck said that if the county provided the necessary approvals this month construction could begin in April. The library is expected to take 14 months to complete and should be open by the summer of 2018. She said library officials were anxious to see the long-awaited project complete.

“You may have heard the expression a good book builds character,” Ranck said. “Well a great library builds community. This new facility will allow us to do just that.”

The council approved a waiver of permitting fees not to exceed $23,300 along with $3,427 in labor costs associated with electric installation at the library. Mayor Gee Williams praised the project and said he was pleased that the building would fit in with the historic nature of the town but would also meet modern day needs.

“I think you really struck a wonderful balance between beauty and functionality,” he said. “I appreciate the fact that while it’s a very 21st century library in terms of what it provides to the community, it’s also very appropriate in terms of its architecture and its charm. I’m hoping that will be one more example that the two are not at odds. Something can be functionally and technologically cutting edge but it can still look like it’s got a touch of class. This has a lot of class.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

Alternative Text

Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.