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Residents question plans for new library

It happened with the Campo YMCA. It happened with the Bloomingdale Recreation Center.

Ted Grable doesn't want to see it happen with the new South Brandon library, slated to be built just east of Bloomingdale High School on Bloomingdale Avenue.

Grable, president of the Bloomingdale Homeowner's Association, says both the YMCA and recreation center were already operating at maximum capacity when they opened.

He worries that the 10,000-square-foot library on the county drawing boards won't be large enough to properly serve the community.

"The neighborhood is huge," Grable says. "You can't just shove all of south Brandon in the same size library you'd put in Dover or Seffner or Wimauma."

The Hillsborough County Commission on Wednesday will review a consultant's report that says the South Brandon community could use an additional 5,000 or more square feet, says David Wullschleger, operations manager for Hillsborough County Public Libraries.

But the county hasn't budgeted money to pay for the extra space.

The library board decided to build 10,000 square feet, the typical size of a neighborhood library, because that's what the $3.1-million, the amount allotted to the facility, would buy, Wullschleger says. Regional libraries are typically 25,000 square feet.

"It's doesn't matter if you call it a regional library or not. If you have the population to support it, you should build a library that size," Grable says.

Construction of the facility is scheduled to begin in December and end one year later. The floor plan, by the Tampa architectural firm Fleischman Garcia, shows 10,000 square feet with an optional 5,000 square feet.

"If funding became available, we could expand this library up to 25,000 square feet or beyond," Wullschleger says. "The land is available."

At this point, though, the money is not, he says.

A group of residents in northwest Hillsborough County has expressed similar concerns about the size of the library planned for their neighborhood. Plans for the Upper Tampa Bay library also call for an initial 10,000 square feet.

The County Commission is scheduled to review plans for both libraries on Wednesday.

_ Janet Zink can be reached at 661-2441 or jzinksptimes.com.

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Do you think 10,000 square feet is enough space for the south Brandon library? Call us at 661-2426 or e-mail brandonsptimes.com to share your views.

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