PALM HARBOR — For years, users of the Palm Harbor Library have battled each other for spaces in the cramped library parking lot.
However, by early May, peace should reign.
Because of a hefty donation from the Palm Harbor Library Endowment Foundation, 22 parking spaces will be added in the southeast corner of the library property on Nebraska Avenue, increasing the total number of parking spaces from 124 to 146.
Since the work is being paid for by the foundation, library director Gene Coppola describes it as a win-win for residents. "No tax dollars are being used, and at the same time, the community will get access to more parking,'' he said.
Coppola plans on assigning the new parking spaces to his employees, which will give library users "a chance for more front row parking.'' He has been concerned that visitors have had to find optional parking across the street from the library for several years.
"Of course, adding more parking is not a sexy project, but it is one that has been needed for quite some time. We're below the minimum recommendation set up by (the Florida Library Association). The state association recommends that a library our size have at least 130 spaces,'' he said.
The last project the foundation helped fund was the library expansion in 2007. At the time, the group donated $100,000.
This time around, the foundation is preparing to spend somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 on the parking project, which includes not only new spaces but landscaping and electrical work.
Irene Finger, president of the foundation since 2005, agreed with Coppola that the parking problems go back years. "There has never been enough,'' Finger said.
"One recent example is just last week when we had the (Clam Bayou Jazz Band) program. The parking completely overflowed,'' she said. "And that happens all the time.''
Patron Chad Lumley was pleased to hear about the changes. Last Tuesday, Lumley made sure to put on his raincoat before heading to the library for a novel to read on an upcoming road trip. The Palm Harbor resident knew there was a strong chance he'd be making a long trek through rain from his car to the library's entrance.
"It is always busy here at the library,'' he said. "There have been many times when I've had to park pretty far back.''
Along with the parking lot expansion, the library will also be adding 11 new computers to its public use area.
On Feb. 20, Coppola received approval from the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, the board that oversees the library, to spend about $10,890 from the library's capital fund to purchase the new equipment. The expenditure is part of the library's 10-year plan, created in 2009, to upgrade computers every three years.
Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.