NEW PORT RICHEY — First came $3 million in upgrades to New Port Richey’s downtown Sims Park, which re-opened to fanfare in late 2016.
Then the city pumped $1.8 million into expanding and renovating its Recreation and Aquatic Center on Van Buren Street, completed early this year.
The New Port Richey Public Library may be next in line for some funding love after a consultant pitched a nearly $2 million project to council members Tuesday during a work session on fixing its deteriorating exterior and cluttered interior.
The Illinois-based Williams Architects recommended library upgrades, including restroom improvements, new carpet, new furniture, better lighting, sound-proofing measures, new signs and repairs to worn brick outside.
Their study also recommended an aesthetic overhaul to modernize the library’s interior flow and use of space, which would include new study rooms, children's program areas and even the possibility of a café. The study also proposed an outside café area in the library’s courtyard.
City council members viewed renderings of an inside bright with new paint, sturdy furniture, a spacious layout and slick new technology stations.
It peaked the interest of council members, and Mayor Rob Marlowe said the price tag is not “out of reason,” considering the park and recreation center project costs. City Councilman Matt Murphy likened the library entrance in the renderings to a nice hotel lobby.
“I like the modern flare,” he said.
Interest over the proposal was tempered with cost consciousness. The council directed City Manager Debbie Manns to identify ways to fund the project.
The answer may be in renovating the library in phases, concentrating first on the need to address the building’s aging infrastructure, such as upgrades to the restrooms and maintaining access for disabled patrons.
A new sign for the library already is in the works, staff members announced.
It could be good timing. While the council still must hash out the funding, the projected timeline may coincide with the city’s celebration of the library’s 100th year in April 2020, Marlowe said.