New Pocomoke Library Process Continues; 2nd Attempt At Strategic Demo Grant Unsuccessful

POCOMOKE – Plans to tear down the former armory to make space for a new Pocomoke library continue to move forward.

City Manager Jeremy Mason said this week he’s hopeful that the demolition process can begin this spring. Thanks to a property purchase made last year, the city will be clearing an entire block.

“It’ll do a lot of revitalization for downtown and eliminate the blight,” he said.

Both Pocomoke City and the Worcester County Library have been working in recent years to find a way to build a new Pocomoke branch. After ruling out a city-owned site because of environmental concerns, a plan was developed to tear down the old armory on 2nd Street and build a new facility there.

Though officials were optimistic about getting a strategic demolition grant from the state to aid in the process, for the second year in a row Pocomoke was not successful.

“Unfortunately, most of the money went up to the north end of the state,” Mason said.

He knew there was a chance the city would not receive the funding and asked the Worcester County Commissioners last year for a $300,000 loan to use if the grant didn’t come through.

“That was Plan B,” Mason said, adding that both state and local elected officials had helped throughout the process. “We’ve had a really good support system all along.”

He said the city is now finalizing bidding documents to find someone to handle the demolition, which he’s hoping will take place this spring. Because the city acquired the property adjacent to the armory last year, the demolition will include the old armory as well as what was known as the Collins building and an attached structure.

Mason said citizens are excited about seeing the site improved.

“There’s a lot of benefit to it,” he said.
“It’s not just a library, it’s a community center. The city-owned lot across the street is tentatively slated for a recreation center.”

As site clearing moves closer, Worcester County Library officials are continuing with the design process. Jennifer Ranck, director of the Worcester County Library, said officials were waiting for the release of the governor’s budget to see if construction funds were awarded through the Public Library Capital Grant Program.

“We look forward to sharing design concepts soon,” she said. “The current building opened in June 1970.  A new building will allow the library to expand collections, community meeting space, and quiet study areas while constructing a ‘High Performance Building’ that will consume less energy and be more cost-effective to operate and maintain.”

Ranck said securing state funding was a critical milestone in the process. Once officials determine if state funding is budgeted for the project, Ranck will update city and county leaders regarding a construction timeline and projected costs.

“We are eager to show how a new building will benefit Pocomoke and the surrounding communities for years to come,” she said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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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.