(Photos by Charmaine George)

“The mission of a library is one of connection,” said Pasco County Library System director Sean McGarvey at the groundbreaking event for the Wesley Chapel Library at Seven Oaks — to about 50 people in the audience — on Apr. 12. “We connect people to what is important…in four fundamental ways. We connect people to knowledge, to the culture of the community, to economic opportunity and, most importantly, we connect people to each other.”

McGarvey served as the Master of Ceremonies for the groundbreaking event to showcase the architectural renderings for the new library, which will begin construction within the next month or so on a vacant lot adjacent to Seven Oaks Elementary. The 14,000-sq.-ft., $11 million library, designed by Fleischman Garcia Architects, is being built by Bandes Construction and will have a number of unique features that will make it a “hub of the world,” according to McGarvey, who also introduced the groundbreaking event’s other speakers.

Pasco County Library System director Sean McGarvey

The first was Pasco County Board of Commissioners (BOC) chair Ron Oakley, whose District 1 includes part of Wesley Chapel.

Oakley said that when he first became a county commissioner eight years ago, he was told, “We need to save money in the county, so we need to cut out libraries. They’re not needed…everybody’s got a computer. But, I said, ‘I personally think everybody doesn’t have a computer and all of our citizens love libraries. It’s just amazing what is provided by our library system. The use of this library here in this community is going to be amazing.”

Before then introducing Commissioner Seth Weightman, whose District 2 includes all of Seven Oaks, McGarvey said, “I can not wait to see what the stories of the connections that this building will build for everybody else who will use it…from the kids at the school next door, to the citizens of Pasco County to the members of this community, to the business community at large. I can not wait to see what this building will create for the community.”

District 1 Commissioner Ron Oakley

Weightman then thanked retired Pasco Commissioner Mike Moore (Weightman’s Dist. 2 predecessor), “for allowing me to be here today and celebrating the work that you did over the course of your time to (make this library happen). What a fantastic community ‘add’ here to Seven Oaks. And, to the citizens of Seven Oaks, because of your community and your drive and your watchful eye, we’re proud to bring this to all the folks here in Wesley Chapel.

Weightman then introduced former Comm. Moore, “because this was his baby.”

Moore said, “This (library) was a long time in the making. Part of the Seven Oaks development agreement back then (in 2004) was this site, which was always supposed to be a library. The county commission was very, very supportive of this project when I was on the Board and what I’m most grateful for is that once I left, the next Board came

in and continued with the project. Sometimes, what we see in government, is that when people leave, sometimes projects don’t move forward and they stall, but they (the new BOC) saw the benefit of having this library.”

The former commissioner added, “This library is going to be a meeting place, a place where adults and kids alike will learn, a place where you’ll have gatherings…there will be social events, civic events…and classes for seniors, adults and children.”

Moore also thanked the team from Bandes Construction, “that is actually going to build this facility. Hopefully, it won’t take a year and a half, since materials are easier to get now….but thank you so much for all the support. And, we really are excited as a community that this is going to service not just Seven Oaks, but all of Wesley Chapel and Pasco County.”

Moore also thanked his former aide Andy Taylor, for his part in making the library happen.

District 2 Commissioner Seth Weightman

McGarvey then called up all of the speakers, plus county administrator Mike Carballa, Taylor, the representatives on hand from not only Bandes Construction, but also from U.S. Rep. Laurel Lee and State Sen. Danny Burgess’ offices, as well as other Pasco Library System employees for the ceremonial tossing of the dirt.

After the ceremony, McGarvey told the Neighborhood News that actual construction of the Wesley Chapel Library at Seven Oaks would begin later this month and that the expected completion date for it was the end of 2025.

Paula Wahl, the business compliance & contracts manager for the Pasco Library System, said that among the new library’s unique features will be a separate construction project of a trail that will be artistically designed to look like you’re walking through the pages of a book. There also will be, “an outdoor ‘reading porch’ overlooking the walkway. We also will have a flexible space that will be able to host ‘maker activities.’ Where many of our other libraries have very specific makerspaces — woodshop, video production studio, cooking programs and so on — this library actually will have a special parking space for our mobile makerspace, similar to the van we have here today, specially outfitted to bring activities from each of those out into the community. All of those other library makerspaces have mobile activities that we can bring out into the community here.”

For more information, visit PascoLibraries.org.

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