Last week, the Maple Acre Advisory Committee decided to move forward with Option A for the new library facility in Fenwick. The decision was made after weeks of spirited debate among members of the public, and in spite of survey results indicating a majority preference for neither option.
Earlier in the week the committee had hosted an open house where residents could comment on the designs and submit a written form outlining their position. According to a media release prepared by the town, “The Committee considered more than 130 comments –gathered during a public open house, through comment sheets at the Pelham Arena, and an online consultation– and agreed with the 72% of those who chose Option A over Option B.”
That statement, however, may be misleading. While a higher percentage of people did chose Option A over Option B, more than half of those who responded stated that they preferred neither option, and were hoping to be presented with a new design in the future. In concrete numbers, 36 people clearly preferred A, and 17 people clearly preferred B, but 76 people stated that they preferred neither option. Another 13 responses were too ambiguous to tally.
Prior to voting, committee members were told that only 64 responses preferred neither option. Those were said to be acceptable numbers. The committee did not review the survey results themselves before the question was put to vote. While deliberating their decision, committee members voiced concerns that further debate and delay might put the whole project in jeopardy, noting that Council had made it clear that they would not spend any more money on a redesign.
Ultimately, the committee decided that Option A was the best choice.
“We are thrilled to reconstruct Maple Acre into a state-of-the-art library while honouring nearly a hundred years of library service in Fenwick,” said Mayor Dave Augustyn, who chaired the committee and lauded their reliance on community feedback . “We deeply appreciate the community’s years of involvement and look forward to people enjoying the renewed facility for many years to come.”
Though there was a lot of disagreement surrounding the exterior, the interior design met with near universal praise, and Joe Bouchard, the Pelham Library Board Acting Chair, is excited to see the project moving forward: “A historic decision was made to proceed with the reconstruction of the Maple Acre Library with the full intent of delivering the best library service in Fenwick that available money can provide,”
The approved design includes a quiet/study room; a lounge area facing Canboro Road; a technology centre; a historic record workroom; and children’s activity/ multipurpose rooms that can be used or rented separately.
On Monday Council received a report from staff that would see an additional $7000 earmarked for increased hours at the new facility.
The town hopes to break ground on the project in June.