Volume 15, Number 49
Two of Wake Forest civic centers, the Wake Forest Community Library and the Northern Wake Senior Center, will be closed in September for major renovations that will add to their space.
The library on East Holding Avenue will close at end of day Saturday, Sept. 2, but only after an Expansion Party hosted by Library Manager Valerie Pearce and her staff of librarians and volunteers from 12 noon to 2 p.m. with the Friends of Wake Forest Library providing punch and cupcakes. Everyone is invited to come to celebrate and check out a stack of books for fall reading. Those books can be returned to the outside book deposit for a short time after Sept. 2.
The existing library, 5,500 square feet built in 1996, will grow to about 9,000 square feet, Wake County Library Experience Manager Katrina Vernon said this week, changing its status in the county library system from a community library to a large community library. It has held the title of library with the highest volume of customer use based on books checked out.
Vernon said the change in status will also mean the library will have a larger staff and more programs when it reopens sometime next spring after about nine months of construction. After the library closes, it will take about two weeks to remove the books – which will be distributed across the other county libraries – and the furniture. The existing staff will be posted in other county libraries.
The current patrons of the library on East Holding will also be distributed, with most probably going to the Northeast Regional Library on Green Elm in Wakefield between Common Oaks Drive and Forest Pines Drive, which is the closest. Some people may also go to the Northern Regional Library at 7009 Harps Mill Road.
During construction the first step will be to destroy some walls, leaving other walls and the bathrooms intact, to allow for the expansion to the north (toward the Kiwanis Park next door).
Mark Forestieri, the director of Wake County Facilities Design and Construction, said the project is now out for construction bids and those will be received by Aug. 15. The county commissioners should be able to award the contract on Sept. 5.
“The project will consist of a renovation to the existing building,” Forestieri said in an email Wednesday, “with the majority of space designated for children’s services, and will
also include new book displays, circulation, workroom and the original restrooms.
“The project will also consist of construction of a new 4,000 SF expansion, which will be primarily designated for adult services, but will also include the staff office and other support spaces.”
Forestieri also said that if the contract is awarded as scheduled, “construction will begin in October and continue through much of 2018. We then expect the grand opening to occur in late summer or early fall of 2018.”
The Wake Forest library began in 1961 as a town project in two rented rooms and later occupied the first Durham Bank & Trust building (later Central Carolina Bank and now SunTrust) after a town-wide effort in 1973 to raise $22,500 to match the bank’s donation. The bank was moving into the new building on Elm Avenue between South White Street and Brooks Street. The town owned that second library building and provided all utilities as well as paying the librarians until the mid 1980s when the new county library system began paying for the library’s operations.
Across from the library on East Holding is the Northern Wake Senior Center which also began as a town project mostly sparked by a group of senior citizens who raised the money to build the center in 1993. It was donated to the town, which handles building maintenance, repair and utilities while the programs are provided by Resources for Seniors, a nonprofit.
In 2014 town voters approved selling bonds for the project which is projected to cost $3.1 million including planning, engineering and equipment with construction estimated at $2,367,000. The contract should go out for bids on Aug. 18 with the town board able to approve the winning contract in September.
Matt Hale, the architect, said, “The most significant new spaces in the expansions are two large Movement Studios (dedicated spaces for all dance & exercise programs, with special cushioned floor in one and a wood dance floor in the other) plus a dedicated Arts & Crafts wing with three larger classrooms. Please note: the ‘Body Shop’ mentioned in the attached information is not an auto body shop! It is a room with exercise equipment! The center had a space for this purpose nicknamed the ‘Body Shop,’ ever since the original building was constructed.
“The original portion of the building is undergoing significant gutting & renovation. Many spaces are being ‘repurposed’ to help address the Center’s evolving program needs as well as accommodate the growing numbers of participants.” The existing building has 9,622 square feet of heated space. The enlarged building with the front porches added to the usable space and the two new wings will have 18,429 square feet.
The town has already purchased 1.71 adjacent acres to add to the two-acre original site. This will mean the parking spaces will more than double, from 48 now to 109 when the center reopens on either Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 or the following day. There will also be three driveways instead of the existing two.
Miranda Strider-Allen, who directs the programming at the center, has been busy finding space for all the programs and services, spreading them around in the community. She said this in early July: “With the help of the Town of Wake Forest, Parks and Recreation, Renaissance Center, Northern Regional Center, Brookdale of Wake Forest, Carillon Assisted Living of Wake Forest, The Lodge, and the American Legion many of our programs have been arranged. We have more businesses willing to help us during the time we are out of the building.”