CANAL FULTON — A prominent and popular fixture in the city’s historic district will start to grow this year.

The Canal Fulton Public Library is planning a building expansion that could get started by late summer. The bulk of the partial two-floor, 3,300-square-foot addition will provide new space for library programs and public meetings, enlarge the facility’s handicapped-accessible restrooms and add offices for department managers.

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” said Bob Richmond, president of the library Board of Trustees. “We’re probably the smallest library in Stark County, and — right now — have no space set aside for programs.”

Library board meetings and events like author speeches, book clubs and story time for children can be hosted in the expanded area once work is completed, Richmond said. The city’s Historic Preservation Commission approved the plan for the project last week.

Of the numerous libraries in Stark County, Canal Fulton is the only one without dedicated space for public gatherings, said Richmond. Meetings and events are often held in the children’s room of the library, which can’t accommodate large gatherings.

Richmond, who’s been a member of the library board for nearly two decades, said the project to enlarge the facility is estimated to cost about $1 million. The library, 154 Market St. E, garners the bulk of its funding from the Ohio Public Library Fund, tax levies and donations.

The Canal Fulton library employs 19 people and has 9,760 cardholders.

Library officials are not seeking to raise funds for the expansion through any new tax initiatives, Richmond said. Instead, money used to pay for the project is likely to come via other sources, such as the library’s capital fund, a bank loan or community donations and fundraising.

“Some of it would be money we’ve accumulated over the years in our capital fund,” said Richmond, noting that share of the cost could reach several hundred thousand dollars. “Hopefully, people will step up and support the library.”

Previous additions

The last library expansion was completed in 2004, according to David Brown, the library’s director, who said a new entryway was built on the facility’s north side, in addition to a 39-space parking lot that includes three handicapped spaces.

Brown said the facility has been added to multiple times since the historic Sullivan House became a library in 1949. The home was built in the 1870s. The original city library opened across High Street NE in a former school in 1937.

In 2014, more than 3,000 square feet of yellow siding was installed on the exterior of the library. Doors, columns and trim were repainted as part of a $140,000 project.

Library officials have hired K2M Design as the architectural firm to develop the design for the facility’s upcoming expansion.

Work could take up to a year once construction starts on the project, said Brown, who estimated that the new section of the library could reopen in winter or spring of 2020.

“You never know with construction (delays and weather). It could run a little longer,” he said.

 

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