November 28, 2014

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Ritter library expansion plan unveiled

VERMILION —  A design rendering of what Ritter Public Library will look like once an anticipated expansion project is completed was unveiled Thursday.The glass front, elevator and added meeting space were all met with approving nods from local residents.

The plans, drawn up by a Cleveland architecture firm, calls for razing the annex, formerly a car dealership and garage, and adding on to the east side of the main brick and marble library building. The expansion would mean more room for services and materials, including Internet access, space for teens and more items in the collection.

COURTESY RITTER PUBLIC LIBRARY
An architectural rendering of the expansion of Ritter Public Library in Vermilion.

It will also end high maintenance and repair costs that are a growing concern at the aging annex, library officials said.

However, before the expansion becomes more than just a pretty picture, trustees are asking residents to approve a 0.45-mill, 28-year bond issue in November to fund the project.

If approved, the bond would cost no more than residents are currently paying. Trustees also are seeking to replace a continuing operating levy, which would cost taxpayers an additional $15 a year per $100,000 of home value.
Jim Liljegren, trustee president, said the board will work to inform residents about the bond issue.

“We’re excited about this project, that’s the bottom line,” he said. “It’s a good time to do this.”

The library has already saved $2 million from previous years’ operating budgets for the expansion.

The modern design will compliment the current single-story structure built in 1954, said Marc B. Bittinger, principal design architect.

“When you’re doing an expansion to a historic building, it’s not wise to recreate the building so that it mirrors the old. Instead, you want to compliment, and I think that’s what we have done here. The new building will be a contemporary building that offers all the amenities of modern technology.”

In the design, Ritter’s Renaissance-style building will be joined to a two-story, 15,000-square foot addition. The front of the building is sunk into the ground so that it adheres to the scale and material of the original building.

A glass front will offer natural and serve as an inviting – and handicap accessible – entryway.

“We’re listening to what the residents want,” said Rick Van Den Bossche, vice president of the Board of Trustees. “We surveyed 1,000 residents who were voters in the last two elections and asked what they wanted in Ritter Public Library.  This project is our attempt to respond to those desires.”

Right now, Ritter is using 92 percent of its shelf space. But library officials said that if everyone returned every item checked out on loan, there would not be enough room to house the entire collection.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.