Plans are finally in place and so is the "coming soon" sign.
Next up is the bid process and then construction on Columbia County's new main library can begin.
"We are very excited about how this project is going," said David Moore, who works with one of the project's architects, the Greenville, S.C.-company Craig, Gaulden and Davis.
Local leaders had hoped bids would already be in and construction would be starting soon. But the slow economy - and the resulting slowdown in sales tax collections - has created a six-month delay.
So far, sales tax collections for the past 12 months are 8.76 percent higher than the previous 12 months. But it's still not where officials hoped it would be. For example, the check for October 2002 - the last one the county received - was about $8,500 less than the October 2001 check.
Architect David Moore shows the Columbia County Library Board the revised plans for the new county library.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"It's just been slow due to the economy slowdown," said County Administrator Steve Szablewski. "Our collections continue to grow, but we are not in a boom."
When construction on the new main library starts - probably in September - it'll take 18-20 months to build and another four months to move in and open.
Last week, members of the county's library board gave their unanimous approval to the plans for the new building, which will be built behind the judicial center in Evans.
The plans for the building show 48,000 square feet of space, including a 300-seat community performing arts theater.
The new branch would be about four times the size of the county's Warren C. Gibbs Memorial Library on Belair Road. That branch, one of three in the county, was built in 1982, when the county's population was a little more than 40,000.
But it is the combination of performing arts theater and library that thrills Moore. He said he's worked on dozens of libraries and performing arts centers, but never under the same roof.
"This is a very forward thinking project," he said. "I know you are going to become a model across the Southeast."
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