South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

 
 

Our voices were heard in design of library

 


I’ll admit that as a walked toward the Carrick Library Meeting on that Thursday in September my mind was more focused on if I was going to beat the forecasted rain and pick-up the couch I had bought on Craigslist.

I made arrangements with my dad, and told him I’d be back home in about 20 minutes as I knew exactly how this meeting would go. I thought after 15 minutes I would have heard enough.

I had been to the Carrick Library ‘input’ meeting months earlier in January and was one of the numerous vocal opponents of the plan as it was presented. I was also extremely disappointed the meeting had been billed as an ‘input’ meeting when what we were being shown seemed like a done deal, seeking the rubber stamp of the community. I had prepared a thoroughly researched presentation detailing where in the pantheon of the Carnegie Library the Carrick Branch fell as far as square footage and actual users. Sadly, there was no forum for presentations, and it seemed like the work I had done was for naught.

Eight full months passed since that day in January. Since the desired ground breaking was to be in the spring of 2017 I believed this meeting was being held to inform us plans were moving forward. I have never been so happy to be so absolutely wrong.

The meeting began with the Carnegie Library acknowledging the previous meeting in January had not gone exactly as expected. They had used the outcry from the community as an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate not only past alternate proposals but investigate new changes in the Carrick real-estate landscape. At this point, I sat up in my hard wooden Concord auditorium seat more appropriately built for a 5th grader than the father of a 5th grader as I came to the realization we had actually been heard. That meeting in January that many left in disappointment had truly been an ‘input’ meeting after all. I sent a text to my Dad to tell him I would be late.

As the new plan was presented the concerns from that earlier meeting were referenced as they explained exactly how the new plan was built to address each particular concern. The lack of additional square footage by simply adding a second floor would be rectified by the purchase of a neighboring building for demolition and expansion.

The reduction of useable space for an elevator servicing our less abled patrons would be supplanted by an ingenious ramp design with a fairly low grade; allowing both accessibility to the second floor for less abled patrons and a lower impact to useable space.

The meeting continued discussing not only how other concerns would be addressed, but what other potential locations were reviewed and some of the issues that caused these locations to not be the correct solution for Carrick.

I don’t know that I have been to a more transparent, empathetic and genuinely informative meeting. The teams from Economic Development South and the Carnegie Library displayed so much passion for this process the crowd of this heavily attended meeting could have easily thought they too were Carrick residents. The feedback from the community that will use this facility and who ultimately pays for it was clearly taken to heart.

While there will be the minor inconvenience of the library being closed while they tear down the existing building and erect the new one, we are lucky in that our Hilltop neighbors in Knoxville have a wonderful new library less than a mile away. The end result will be a beautiful inclusive building that will be a beacon for Carrick’s burgeoning next generation.

The new library will be built using “passive house” construction bringing several cutting edge innovations to its design and function. This innovative approach will bring lower utility costs through super-insulated construction as well as higher indoor air quality, and completely eliminate storm water runoff from the location.

Carrick will have the first library built with passive house construction in North America.

I can confirm for you the old adage is true, you can’t judge a book by its cover (or a library meeting).

Dan Minsterman

Carrick

 

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