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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Indian Land's 'living room,' Within Reach

By Jenny Overman Fort Mill Times
(Published August 8, 2007)

Checking out the New York Times bestseller list, reading the current issue of Time Magazine and gathering with friends and neighbors at the community library isn't just an idea tossed around during board meetings anymore.
For Indian Land residents, it's nearly a reality.

In just a few weeks, the Lancaster County Library Board hopes to begin taking bids for the construction of the Del Webb Library at Indian Land.

At the library board's July 23 meeting, the board voted to go out for bids "as soon as is practical."

A few minor permitting and utility issues need to be resolved first, according to board Chairwoman and Indian Land resident Karen Paulson, but the board hopes to begin taking bids by the end of August or early September.

The board also approved a timeline for construction. It hopes to break ground on the Indian Land library around mid-September and opening the library's doors about a year after construction begins, in the fall 2008.

The library will be built on Hwy. 521 in the commercial development planned for Sun City Carolina Lakes. With no local library, Panhandle residents have to drive to Lancaster, Rock Hill or Fort Mill for books and services.

This library will be more than just a place that holds books, Paulson said. It will be a community asset.

"I characterize the Indian Land library as being Indian Land's living room," Paulson said. "I've been so excited because this library is our community gathering place. This is where people can come and sit down with their favorite book and a newspaper and a cup of coffee and just read and enjoy the people around them."

Del Webb, the developers of Sun City, contributed 2 acres for the library and $1.5 million for construction. More than $300,000 has been raised for the furnishings and books for the new library, which brings the fund $442,000 short of its goal.

The shortfall could mean that the library opens with fewer books than the board had planned, Paulson said.

When complete, the library will be just over 11,000 square feet and capable of holding between 40,000 and 50,000 books.

The next library fundraiser will be the Fall into Fun festival scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29, at Sun City. In addition to the food, games and vendors featured at last year's festival, this year's festival will include a 5K run sponsored by Crossroads Lutheran Church.

The Indian Land library has been a project of the county's for more than four years. When Paulson joined the library board in 2004, she hoped to be part of the planning for an Indian Land library. Three years later, Paulson said, she feels like a new homeowner preparing to build her first home.

And like a new homeowner, Paulson has a few lingering concerns about the library's finances.

Some of the money pledged for the Indian Land library won't actually be donated for several years.

For example, the developers of Bretagne, a gated community off Barberville Road, pledged $100,000 to the library. That money won't be donated for two years, as stipulated in the agreement between Bretagne and the county.

"The board is going to have to explore the possibility of borrowing against our pledges just to open," Paulson said.

Paulson is also worried about paying salaries for employees for the new library. Eventually, the library board expects the Indian Land library to need three full-time and three part-time employees, she said.

No funding was allocated for the Indian Land library in Lancaster County's 2007-2008 budget, but County Librarian Richard Band said he is working with the county council on library funding for the 2008-2009 budget.

"We couldn't ask for money for staff because we won't be opening until fall of 2008, but I will be communicating with the council how much staff and operating cost will be needed between now and the opening," Band said. "It'll be interesting because I know money is always tight."


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