When the proposed Lakewood Ranch library is developed between 2019 and 2026, residents say they want a facility that caters to children and teens as well as seniors.
They want a gathering place to help unify the community, a place where classes can be presented, and where groups can meet. They want dynamic spaces that can change as needs change.
The library also needs to be conveniently located, and easy to reach by car. Possibly along Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, White Eagle Boulevard, or Lorraine Road.
A coffee shop, children’s play area, walking path and artwork would be nice, too.
So went the comments during a community conversation that Manatee County Public Library staff had with residents on a recent Friday night.
No design or artist’s conception yet exists for the library.
“We are still doing a visioning process,” Cheri Coryea, director of Neighborhood and Community Services, said.
Early on, however, county staff believe the Lakewood Ranch library would measure between 30,000 and 35,000 square feet to accommodate a massive amount of future growth and handle spillover from the overcrowded Braden River Branch Library at 4915 53rd Ave. E.
Braden River, with 15,000 square feet of space, handles nearly as many customers annually as the Bradenton Central Library, which has 50,000 square feet of space, according to Manatee County statistics for fiscal 2015-16.
Manatee County voters passed a library impact fee in 2016, which will allow not only construction of a library at Lakewood Ranch, but expansion of the Braden River branch, and the Rocky Bluff branch at 6750 U.S. 301, Ellenton.
The county has collected $374,000 over the first 11 months of the new library impact fee. During the first year of the impact fee schedule, fees are being collected at 80 percent of their recommended rates. On April 18 they’ll rise to 90 percent, county spokesman Nick Azzara said.
It’s anticipated that Braden River would be expanded by 2,500 to 4,000 square feet, while Rocky Bluff would grow by about 2,000 square feet, Coryea said.
Kevin Beach, operations manager for the county library service, previously said Braden River and Rocky Bluff account for the greatest growth in customer use.
Construction of the Lakewood Ranch library branch would not begin until the Braden River branch is expanded.
SOURCE: Manatee County