North Charleston residents were promised a new state-of-the-art, 15,000-square-foot library when voters countywide approved a $108 million bond issue in 2014. Now, nearly three years later, there’s no clear plan forward for a new Cooper River Memorial branch, though County Council did find time recently to rename the library for North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. Meanwhile, designs have been approved for three other new libraries, and construction has begun on a fourth.
What’s worse is that the library has become entangled in a broader, more complicated project to develop a county services hub, including a new home for the Department Of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) treatment center.
But that’s not what voters were promised. Making the library a piece of a larger puzzle only further delays its construction. And time is money.
Construction of the new library — estimated to cost about $8.3 million and originally projected to open this month — was proposed on an adjacent, roughly 4-acre lot formerly occupied by the Sheriff’s Department. That way, the existing library at 3503 Rivers Ave. could remain open during construction — a sensible plan in line with the public’s expectations.
In a recent letter to the editor, North Charleston resident Kristine French wrote that the Charleston County Public Library Board of Trustees “put forward a plan that would keep library services continuously operating during construction; the land is ready for construction to begin, yet County Council is playing games and putting our community last.” She urged the county to stick to the original plan envisioned by the Board of Trustees.
Nicole Davies, executive director of the county library system, agreed with Ms. French. “Ideally, we’d like to honor the voters’ intent,” she said. “I think we’re a little…