Groundbreaking for Cone Library is Thursday morning

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 5:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 5:21 p.m.

Alibna Stewart sat Wednesday on a rug with her 3 year-old granddaughter, Lady, and helped make a dinosaur out of brightly colored construction paper.


If you go

What: Groundbreaking for Cone Park Branch Library
Where: Cone Park, 2841 E. University Ave.
When: 10 a.m. Thursday

It was a little after 10 a.m., and Stewart and Lady were at the spot where they’d spent most Wednesday mornings for more than a year — the children’s reading time at the Cone Park Branch Library.

For now, the accommodations are modest. They sit in a small corner of a modular building with a plush rug, a cushion seat and low plastic chairs for the children.

In the not-too-distant future, possibly by the end of the year, Stewart, Lady and the rest of the library patrons will have a lot more space.

After decades of discussions on building an east side library, a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday will mark the start of construction.

Eventually, the 1,300 square-foot portable building tucked away in the northeast corner of the park will be replaced by a 10,000 square-foot, approximately $1 million permanent library branch.

“I think it’s awesome,” Stewart said of the new library. “I think it’s a wonderful idea. We come here every week, and she has advanced so much since she started coming to story time.”

Alachua County Library District Director Shaney Livingston said the new branch will have a meeting room, a teen space, a quiet reading room, a larger computer area and a larger children’s section with a play area.

The district has signed a 99-year lease to locate the library in the park. Under the lease, the city receives $1. Besides the cost of constructing the branch building, the Library District also paid approximately $149,000 toward infrastructure improvements at the park that include the parking lot.

“This has been a great partnership with the city of Gainesville,” Livingston said. “They have so graciously agreed to let us locate this library there.”

Phillis Filer, the public services administrator at the Cone branch, said the small modular building already sees extensive use from the neighborhood, residents who come to exercise at Cone Park and the after-school program at the park’s community center.

While the main library branch is on East University Avenue, Filer said, “it wasn’t what people considered to be out east.” Some residents wondered if they would ever see a full-fledged east side library, she said.

“People are so ecstatic at the fact we’re doing this,” Filer said. “One lady said, ‘I thought I’d never see it in my lifetime. We actually have a library in the neighborhood.’ ”

Like the smaller Library Partnership location on Northeast 16th Avenue, the Partnership for Strong Families will have a presence at the library to link area residents to social service agencies.

The library is the next piece in the continued development of the city’s east side park. Last February, construction wrapped up on a project that included an eight-lane rubberized track, new basketball courts, a multi-purpose athletic field, a parking lot and restroom facilities.

Pushing her 18-month-old daughter’s stroller around the track Wednesday morning, LeTricia Davis said the park and the library all fit community needs that have long gone unmet in that area.

“It’s nice to have things on this side of town because we really don’t have anything out here,” she said.

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