South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

CLP-Carrick next up for a library makeover

Second floor may be added, but that's another story


CLP Carrick on Brownsville Road is next in line for a complete renovation including a second story and the addition of an elevator and children's/teen space.

About 75 people crowded into a makeshift meeting space at Carnegie Library of PittsburghCarrick on Jan. 14 for a meeting on a clearly visible need: more space.

But after learning about the tentative plan to enlarge the facility, some questioned if it would be big enough.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) wants to start this summer on a $2.3 million renovation, which includes the addition of a second floor. The library would be closed for 10-12 months to complete the work.

Last week's meeting was called by CLP to discuss tentative plans, and solicit residents' input which will be conveyed to the CLP board.

The plan calls for new carpeting, shelving, fixtures, lighting, and more on the first floor.   There will also be adult and staff work space.

The new second floor will house rooms for teen activities, meetings, storage, and children's activities.   There will be a children's/teen terrace, and an elevator and staircase that lead to the second floor.

"The stair is a way to bring natural light down to the first floor," architect Laura Nettleton of Thoughtful Balance said.

The square footage of the library will increase from 4,000 to 6,600 when the addition is completed.

Mary Monaghan, CLP's neighborhood director of 17 branches, began the meeting with background information.

She said CLP started its capital improvement program in 2002 with the goal of renovating all branches. CLP-Carrick will be number 16.

In 2008, the board decided to merge the Carrick and Knoxville branches.  However, when a suitable site could not be secured, the plan was abandoned.

In 2011, the decision was made to renovate the Knoxville library, which began last summer. The board then turned its sights on the Carrick library.

As its present site at 1811 Brownsville Rd. is almost midway between the Knoxville and Brentwood libraries, the decision was made to stay put and renovate.  Ms. Monaghan also said residents she asked told her they love the present location as it is within walking distance of homes and schools.

"The community process starts tonight.

"We take all of your input under consideration," Ms. Monaghan said.

There will be two more meetings on the issue.

She began the discussion by asking attendees what they like about the current library, soliciting comments including the teen and children's space; corkboard listing current events; and that the facility is within walking distance.

She then asked what they would like to see in a new Carrick library.

Responses included: more than one meeting room; an outside sign announcing library activities; comfortable furniture; space for displaying teen art; sign stating "open"; dedicated parking; more than two floors; and a green building.    

Others said they would like separate, quiet space for studying; more computers; copy and laminating machines; community gardening on the terrace; and a building built to energy-efficient standards.

Ron Graziano, CLP's director of capital projects, said CLP is in discussion with adjacent St. Basil's parish about parking in their lot. A parking study is also underway.

To a question about why only one additional floor, Mr. Graziano said additional floors would require adherence to additional city code regulations, such as regarding egress and zoning, and therefore would not be cost effective.

To a question about the budget, he said the construction budget is $1.5 million of the overall $2.3 million renovation cost. He said the library board looked at more than 3,000 properties over three years, and had to make a decision. That decision was to renovate on the current site.

"We believe we can provide adequate services here," he said.

Mr. Graziano said when searching for other locations, letters were sent to businesses asking if they were interested in selling. A broker was even retained to find a site to buy or lease, but to no avail.

A member of the Carrick-Overbrook Historical Society said the group has about 70 albums of history and memorabilia, but nowhere to store it. She said the Carrick library also needs a parking lot.

An attendee commented that even with a second floor, the library will quickly outgrow it.  Others agreed.

A woman said city taxpayers voted to tax themselves to support CLP.  She said while she is not being greedy, the Carrick expansion/renovation must last a long time, and she is concerned it will not result in a large enough facility.

A few attendees suggested purchasing the Long John Silver's property.  But another said it would not have adequate parking spaces.

Mr. Graziano said a structural analysis of the current building revealed that a second floor could be added. If Long John Silver's had been acquired, it would have had to be demolished, and a library built from the ground up.

To a question of how receptive St. Basil's is to a second floor, Mr. Graziano said the project cannot be done without an easement onto the church's parking lot. He said the church is okay with that.

The next community meeting on the library has yet to be scheduled.


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