Seeking greater input on plans to build a new Hyattsville Branch Library, community members from neighboring municipalities are joining efforts to stall plans for the $14.3 million facility.
Plans for renovating the 49-year-old site have been in place since 1988, according to the Prince George’s County’s Capital Improvement Program. In the fiscal 2014 Capital Improvement Program, the project was converted into a complete rebuild because the current facility had infrastructure problems and was less compatible with modern library designs, said Kathleen Teaze, director of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System.
“It essentially has the library making consequential decisions, and then coming to the public,” said Hyattsville councilman Bart Lawrence (Ward 1).
Hyattsville community members shared concerns Aug. 13 with Calverton-based developer Grimm + Parker Architects representatives at the library in a meeting arranged by the library system.
“[The meeting was] a tiny part of what should have been a much larger effort,” Lawrence said.
Hyattsville council members voted Sept. 16 to send a letter to Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) requesting suspension of the library’s redesign until there are additional opportunities for community input.
The letter also asked the county to revisit the decision on whether to rebuild the facility, which was constructed in 1964, mentioning aesthetic, historical and programmatic implications.
Residents in attendance at the Aug. 13 meeting said they were concerned about preserving the distinctive flying saucer structure above the building’s entrance and wanted the new library to maintain a diverse book collection.
Mount Rainier’s council voted Sept. 3 to send a letter of support for public input on the library to the county.
“It’s interesting that a number of municipalities have concerns,” said Mount Rainier Councilman Brent Bolin (Ward 2). “Hopefully the county will be responsive to that.”
University Park officials are also concerned about the lack of public input in the design phase.
“The town just wanted to be able to weigh in,” said Tracey Toscano, University Park’s town clerk.
Melanie Hennigan, partner at Grimm + Parker, said the firm will begin working on schematic designs for the project in October. The site is set to open in 2015.
“We’re very open to community input wherever it comes from,” Hennigan said.
Prince George’s County Del. Doyle L. Niemann (D-Dist. 47) of Mount Rainier, a member of the Friends of the Hyattsville Branch, called the decision to rebuild the facility “a no-brainer.”
He said suspending the redesign could result in Hyattsville’s branch losing funding for the facility, a concern shared by Teaze.
“If one project doesn’t move, another one will,” Niemann said.