By MARY MacDONALD The Atlanta Journal-Constitution www.ajc.com
Milton should gain a major new library in the next several years, thanks to steady population growth. But Roswell and Sandy Springs will have to settle for renovations rather than new facilities.
The proposed master plan for the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System is a mixed bag for Northside communities. And in the months leading up to its approval, several community leaders have tried to intervene to change their fortunes.
Roswell, in particular, has pressed hard for a second library, with advocates arguing the city has the population and traffic congestion to warrant two libraries. Under the master plan, the existing library at 115 Norcross St. will get a major, $1.7 million renovation.
The existing Sandy Springs library at 395 Mount Vernon Highway also will get a major renovation, but no expansion.
Advocates in both cities want more.
A group called People for a Library in East Roswell have collected more than 1,000 signatures over the past several months, asking for a library at Fouts and Holcomb Bridge roads, where the city has property it is willing to share. Roswell Mayor Jere Wood and the City Council are supporting the effort.
"All we can do is try," said Eileen Seidman, president of the advocacy group. "But our neighborhood needs it."
Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos also took on an activist stance. She encouraged city residents in September to attend a public forum on the proposed master plan and ask for a second library in the city.
The system's plan, unveiled almost a year ago, is expected to go before the 11-member board of the library system in February 2008, said John Szabo, the library system's director. The board will then make a recommendation to the full Fulton County Commission, which decides the final package of library improvements.
For the past several months, the library system has held 37 public forums on its proposed expansion, Szabo said. All of the comments will be considered, he said. In Milton, he said, residents asked for a more centrally located library than the Birmingham community.
"We have certainly heard a great demand for library service," he said. "It's fair to say that many, many residents would like bigger libraries and more of them."
Ultimately, he said, the needs of the entire system have to be balanced."We plan libraries and try to plan where they're located and their sizes in as fair and equitable a way as possible," he said.
The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System plans 10 new libraries and major renovations as part of a 10-year master plan. Northside communities will get a new library in the Birmingham area of Milton, as well as renovations of existing facilities. Here are the details:
$12.5 million, 25,000 square feet facility
Alpharetta Branch Library
238 Canton St., Alpharetta
Northeast/Spruill Oaks Regional Library
9560 Spruill Road, Johns Creek
$1.5 million renovation
Dr. Robert E. Fulton Regional at Ocee
5090 Abbotts Bridge Road, Johns Creek
Roswell Regional Library
115 Norcross St., Roswell
$1.7 million renovation
Sandy Springs Regional Library
395 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs
$1.8 million renovationSource: Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.