Early Work Underway For Pocomoke Library Changes

BERLIN – Library officials this week highlighted ongoing efforts to complete pre-design work for a shared facility in Pocomoke.

On Tuesday, Library Director Jennifer Ranck provided the Worcester County Library Board of Trustees with an update on pre-design work for a proposed shared facility in Pocomoke.

For years, the library system has identified a need for significant renovations and an addition at the Pocomoke branch.

The library, which opened in 1970, received an 1,800-square-foot addition in 2004. A 2013 facilities study, however, identified building improvements for the library as the second most critical need behind the replacement of the Berlin branch.

Last fiscal year, two building schemes – one with a 2,500-square-foot addition and another with a 4,000-square-foot addition – were developed for the Pocomoke library. However, officials learned that both options came with a price tag exceeding $5 million.

Instead of moving forward with the proposed addition at the current facility, Library Director Jennifer Ranck went before the commissioners in December with another option – to consider a parcel of property offered by the City of Pocomoke. The property, located on Willow Street, is currently home to the Corner Sanctuary Pocomoke Community Garden.

“We wouldn’t be on the main drag anymore, but we would be in an area that would lend itself to some partnerships,” she told the board this week.

Ranck’s proposal, which was approved unanimously, recommended moving forward with a site study and environmental testing of the property, as well as hiring an architect to complete preliminary design concepts of a shared facility that would host both the library and a senior center. The commissioners also suggested the library explore the possibility of sharing a facility with the Worcester County Health Department.

“The county’s really just given me the okay to look into it,” she said. “There’s no guarantee … This is all just sort of information gathering, but it’s exciting.”

Late last month, Ranck met with representatives from the Worcester County Commission on Aging and the Worcester County Health Department in a kick-off meeting to discuss the various needs of each agency. She told board members this week that both the library and health department identified a need for at least 10,000 square feet of space in a new facility, while the senior center identified a need of roughly 4,000 square feet.

“There’s space on the current library property to expand,” she said. “I think we would have room for at least 10,000 square feet there. We wouldn’t move for the same amount of space.”

Ranck said the three agencies were working alongside Jeff Schoellkopf of The Design Group to develop preliminary design concepts for a new facility, which would be presented to the board next month.

“We are going to see if we can make all three things work,” she said.

Ranck also noted that elected leaders in Pocomoke had suggested a community input session for residents.

“I think we can definitely do that, but I think we definitely want to be further along before we start that,” she said. “Let’s get some sketches together and see what’s actually possible on this parcel.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.