Bay Village residents made it very clear two years ago they did not like plans for their new $7.5 million library. Too modern. Not practical. As a result, Cuyahoga County Public Library officials scrapped the plan, hired a new architect firm that did a deep dive into the city’s history, and, after public surveys and public meetings and discussion, they came up with a design that embraces the home vibe of Bay Village. Residents were happy and library officials were happy, if not a little chastened that they hadn’t done more research before unveiling their original plan.
We can only hope that Avon residents “pull a Bay Village” and demand a nicer, more elegant new library. We hate to say it, but based on the architectural plans presented by Lorain Public Library System officials for the $9 million addition, we don’t like it. The proposed addition looks like two barns shoved together at awkward angles with ground-to-roof picture windows thrown in for good measure.
Avon’s population has more than doubled since the Avon Branch of the Lorain Public Library System opened in 1994. Library officials and the city want to double the size of its library space and materials. That can happen pending passage of a 2-mill 20-year levy on the March 17 ballot.
Aaron Hill, principal architect of Bialosky Cleveland, which is designing the new library, and Anastasia Diamond-Ortiz, director of the Lorain Public Library System, unveiled the plans before City Council on Feb. 3. As reported by West Life’s Mike Sakal on Page 1, the 15,000-square foot addition would double the study areas, and enhance the interactive arts and play areas create a meeting large enough to hold 100 people. It would be one story, matching the existing library on Harvest Drive. Plans also call for more parking spaces, a drive-up window and a café.
We realize that “distressed farmhouse” is the current hot design for home interiors, but we know a look that will appear dated in a few years. And the Avon Library will look dated, like a Red Barn, believe us. We also wonder about the practicality of all the windows right at workspaces, if the tentative design is to be believed. Light streaming through the windows will make it impossible for patrons to see anything on their computer screens, be it a laptop or a desktop.
We actually like the distribution of the rooms (space for children, teens, a “create” space and even a reading garden), but we just can’t get past the exterior, to put it bluntly, ugliness.
Of course, voters will have the ultimate say if plans move forward. Voters are asked to approve Issue 12, which would raise $1.9 million a year. If approved, annual property taxes on a home valued at $100,000 would go up $70, $140 on a home valued at twice that amount. The existing 1.2-mill, five-year library tax levy generates $481,000 a year and costs homeowners about $37 per $100,000 home valuation. That levy expires next year, and the new one would replace it.
Residents and library users will have to live with what is built for decades. If you don’t like the design, speak up now. It’s your tax dollars. You have a say.
Libraries are worth our time, effort and love. We suggest Avon ponder a little bit longer about its aesthetics.
Be like Bay Village, citizens of Avon. Be like Bay Village.