Commissioners to Discuss Future of Library

The Board of Commissioners has scheduled a Special Meeting of the Board to discuss and receive public input about the future of the Haverford Township Free Library.

The Board of Commissioners has scheduled a Special Meeting of the Board to discuss and receive public input about the future of the Haverford Township Free  Library. 

The meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room located behind the Township Building at 2325 Darby Road in Havertown. 

Members of the public will be permitted to speak at the meeting; the Board will not be voting on any proposals at the meeting, according to commissioner Dan Siegel.

Click here to see the documents that contain the information presently known to and/or being considered by the Board. 

In an email to constituents, Siegel writes:

Since 2010, the Board has been evaluating options for the renovation or replacement of aging Township facilities that were not properly maintained by prior Boards. As a result, the Board's Property Committee made a series of presentations in which it recommended (in the following priority): 

  1. Replacing the Vehicle Maintenance Facility and updating the Public Works Yard.
  2. Replacing the Police Station and Township Building by constructing a new Municipal Services Building that would consolidate and house all Township administrative functions in one central facility.
  3. Consider replacing or repairing the Township Library.
    Click here to view all of the reports/presentations relating to the Library and the Municipal Services Building


Items 1 and 2 have and continue remain the Board's top priorities. In fact, the Board has (1) authorized the replacement of the Vehicle Maintenance Facility  and has borrowed the funds for its replacement, and (2) begun the process of seeking architects and contractors for the Municipal Services Building. These projects were approved by a large majority of the Board earlier this year. 

Library-Related Developments 

The condition of the library has deteriorated significantly, requiring the Property Committee to re-evaluate the future of the Library. The Property Committee unanimously believes that it will require a substantial investment to either repair or replace the Library, and these costs can no longer be ignored or deferred without placing the Library in jeopardy of closing. The Committee is not unanimous as to how to address this situation and is therefore presenting it to the Board and the public for comment.


Update - Current Library Status

Currently, the Library's Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) systems are:

  • 30+ years old
  • Inefficient
  • At the end of their useful lives (a useful life of 1 to 3 years)

In addition, emergency repairs are needed in the basement relating to electrical and other systems. Further, the Library is not fully Building Code compliant, is not fully ADA-compliant, has space deficiencies, and has limited parking and no safe drop-off zones.

Because of this situation, the Library has spent nearly 15% of the Township's annual library appropriation on maintenance and utility costs. Further, the cost of performing the MEP renovations is estimated at $1.5 million.


Library Options

Currently, the Board is trying to determine how to address the Library in the context of the proposed Municipal Services Building. There are two options:

  • Repair/renovate the existing facility    


  • Include the Library in the proposed Municipal Building


Advantages of Renovations

Renovations would provide improvements in:

  • Safety
  • Functionality
  • Productivity for staff
  • Meeting spaces and special purpose areas
  • Customer experience
  • Proximity to high school & middle school


Disadvantages of Renovations

Disadvantages of renovations include:

  • Space deficiencies (renovations must address current building design limitations)
  • There will continue be only 17 on-site parking spaces and 1 handicap parking spot
  • The building has Inefficient use of space
  • The building provides inefficient staff workflow logistics  
  • The Library is likely to be an ongoing drain on Library and Township funds because of its age and its lack of energy efficiency
  • The Library must close for 1 year for renovations
  • Renovation costs include $600,000 for ADA-compliant elevator


Advantages of New Facility

 A new facility offers the following advantages:

  • Taxpayer savings (maintenance, utilities & other costs)
  • Increased safety
  •  Increased security (attached to the Police Station)
  • The Library will be fully ADA compliant
  • It will be a State-of-the-Art Library
  • The Library will benefit from shared spaces and special purpose areas
  • The new Library will share in 322 available parking spaces (versus 17 spaces at the existing location)
  • The Library will be closer to some elementary schools, as well as playing fields, the Skatium, etc.
  • The Library will be adjacent to the connector trail with the YMCA & Paddock Farms area


Disadvantages of a New Location

The Committee has noted the following disadvantages of the new location:

  • There will be additional traffic pressures on the intersection of Darby and Manoa Roads
  • There will be a need to allocate the 322 parking spaces among users of the fields, the Township administrative use and the Skatium
  • The new Library is three blocks farther from the high school and middle school (approximately 50 to 75 high school and middle school students use the Library daily)

Options & Costs

 The options currently being considered are to either:

  • Repair/renovate the existing facility


  • Include the Library in the proposed Municipal Building 
The Board has not discussed, nor do I believe the Board supports, halting construction of the currently-planned Municipal Services Building. The current Board has acknowledged that it must address the current facility deficiencies. For example, the 1988 Comprehensive Plan stated that many Township facilities were created in the 1920s and were intended to serve a population of 6,000, not the current population of 50,000.

Renovating the Library  

The cost of renovating the Library is estimated at $5,510,670, excluding the costs (tangible and intangible) of closing the Library for one year.

Including the Library in the new Municipal Services Building

The cost of including the Library in the new Municipal Services Building is estimated at $7,167,600. However, this does not include the following items that should or may reduce the cost of the Library: 

  • Grants (estimated at between $500,000 and $1,000,000)
  • Proceeds from the sale of the existing Library (it was appraised at $1,200,000, including "exceptional assumptions" such as the dearth of parking)
  • The Library's contributions toward the cost of construction
  • The Library's separate fund-raising efforts 

Tax Consequences 

According to the Township Finance Director, the new Municipal Services Building will cost the average taxpayer $31 per year in additional taxes. If the cost of a new Library is included, the new Municipal Services Building will cost the average taxpayer $56 per year (an additional cost of $25 per year for the Library).

Bob Stokes November 24, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Would rather see the township consolidate some parcels on the Darby Rd split (in short, buy out the gas station and Chinese restaurant) and site a library in partnership with a coffee chain for an outdoor space that can be used for civic events and provide a public, (three sided) square for Htown. Might also leverage a better commercial district and a more ped friendly area currently dominated by auto traffic. Putting a library on the 4th floor of a planned muni building does little to support broader planning goals for the township (which should be to create a more walkable, vibrant, interesting and livable place). To me that is the question. The library is not cheap, so, how can we leverage a greater impact for the investment?
Tom November 25, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Instead of giving the land away for the (wh)Y and charging no taxes to them. all of the things were needed and that parcel of land was perfect for them. The WHY was unnecessary addition to the township when there is a center similar in the township minus the pool because it could not be added because of the WHY. Now all of a sudden after giving away millions of dollars to the WHY the corrupt commissioners who over and over again get reelected: allgates, the reserve, the why. They now are decided that township feel the need to charge more for the taxpayers? Haverford township major problem is NO TAX BASE. The WHY is just another example of the ongoing corruption that continues to plague the township and commissioners who should be in jail. No one in haverford township for years has used the piss poor library that has been outdated by at least 40. Everyone used to go to lower merion one. Library are flat out dying there is not need to build massive ones. Print material is DEAD, books(1000s electronic books can be stored on a little tablet), newpapers (papers are switching to electronic formats), Encyclopedias(been dead for 20 years). Students highschools/ colleges use the internet for more accurate up to date information than the out of date print books. Police and township building should have combined before the did the renovation on the station 15plus years ago. Again the township building/police station and seperate building for the libary should have gone where the why is now. That is the most idiotic plan I have ever heard of knocking down buildings in a overly busy area of darby and eagle that would have a limited area of parking. Just as idiotic as not doing a traffic study (didn't even need on) to show the impact of putting a another light on eagle which was not need the two adjacent homes next to the why should have been purchased (we thew away money anyway why not spend a little more to do it right) and a proper intersection for the why to have been created at Lawerence, instead of the traffic nightmare that now is eagle road.
Nicole November 26, 2013 at 08:55 AM
Tom, do you ever visit the library? If you'd review the library's 2012 report (citing more visitors than any other library in the Delco public library system), you might see that print isn't dead and that the library offers many more programs and services than just loaning books. Here's the link, page 8: http://www.haverfordlibrary.org/sites/default/files/HTFL%20Annual%20Report%202012.pdf
Tom November 26, 2013 at 11:16 AM
No I gave up on Haverford's terrible library years ago. 50-70 kids a day is all that is cited who use the library from the middle school and highschool. That is nothing when there are almost 3000 students in the highschool. Look at the numbers for Montco. If you compared ludington library(pre-renovation) it blew away Haverford's library's resources that were up had to date and availability of resources. Print is dying and dead. Textbooks are going away, how many newspapers have gone out off business or going to soon be (ie. The Inquirer), Encyclopedia Britannica is not publishing print editions anymore, dvd/cds are going to electric format, everything is moving to electric format. You can go online and find any book/resource(Library of Congress) that is better than any library in the world from the comfort of your home. Point being Haverford Township has needed a new library for hmmm 30 years. Now I'm hating to say its now really needed, libraries as we used to know them are dead. We also have a community center at the reserve for activities. Haverford township corrupt officials gave the land that could have been used for these buildings ie. allgates, the reserve, the Swell bubble gum factory, etc for only their corrupt officials gain. The YMCA should never have been built let alone have them be free of taxes. What did havertown get from the why? Oh yea Millions of dollars in loses. Instead this land should have been used for a new library and police/township building like it was originally proposed. Instead there is no open land which the township could have been used for all of the above. The answer is going to be spending millions to repair existing outdated facilities which will not be effective and will beg again in a few years time for new facilities or updates. Since Havertown loves throwing money away here a novel idea for the library keep it in its existing location and buy the adjacent stores next to it and that former bank on the corner of golf and darby and use that land for a new library/township building and parking lot. Use the old parking lot for expansion of the building also. Take off that god awful 60/70's horrible design elements on the building and put on a new facade similar in style to the stone front of the building. Yes not prefect but the prefect plan for all of these building would have been the why site.
Nicole November 26, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Agreed that the township should've made better use of the bubble gum factory but that's water under the bridge now. No sense looking back, they need to look forward and plan. From meetings I've attended, I believe the library considered attempting to purchase the businesses on its block, but that still would not solve the underlying structural problems that the building itself faces. Bottom line is that the township needs to explore every last option before it attempts to vote and not just push through renovations or a new building because it's the "easy" solution. Their lack of planning put us in this position and that lack should not be allowed to continue.


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