Wesley Chapel has been without a library for more than a year since the only previous location, the New River Branch Library on S.R. 54, began a major facelift.
That facelift, which will feature areas for teens and children, remodeled bathrooms, new furniture, an improved community garden and covered learning space, should be completed by January, but that hasn’t stopped District 2 Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore from looking ahead to another library for the area.
“I think the time is right,” Moore says, pointing to the massive growth the area has witnessed in recent years, as well as the tens of thousands of homes still planned for the future.
Moore pitched the idea to his fellow county commissioners last week.
As usual, it will all come down to finding the money to build what Moore expects would be roughly a $10-million endeavor.
The land already is owned by Pasco County, Moore says. It is right in front of Seven Oaks Elementary, off of Mystic Oaks Blvd. In 2004, that parcel was set aside as part of the development agreement for the Seven Oaks DRI with the intention that the county would use it for a future library.
In September, Moore was able to secure funding for a concept design for the 20,000-sq.-ft. facility. Renderings of the possible library show plenty of meeting spaces inside and outside, as well as large glass windows that overlook the wetlands that would be behind the library (above).
Now, he is proposing a larger expenditure, probably close to $1-million, to fund the actual design of the library.
After that, “We’ll look at all possible resources to get it built,” Moore says.
Bob Harrison, the Pasco County Libraries marketing and communications program manager, says it could take 3-4 years to bring the project to fruition. He agrees that Wesley Chapel’s rapid growth warrants a second library.
“We definitely look at the growth areas and Wesley Chapel is probably the fastest growing area in Pasco County and has been for some time,” he says. “It definitely could use another library based on its population growth.”
Many of the county’s libraries have been refurbished and received updated maker spaces. For example, the Regency Park Library in New Port Richey has a test kitchen, the Hudson library has a recording studio, and both were decided on by local residents.
Harrison says the Wesley Chapel community will decide what special features to put in a new library via focus groups and meetings.
“As far as I know, (Moore and his fellow commissioners) are certainly committed to making it happen,” Harrison says. “Of course, funding is always a question, but I know at this point they are moving forward with it.”
Although the New River Library is still closed, it’s still available as an early voting site for this year’s General Election. For info, visit PascoVotes.com.