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East County Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 3 years ago

Plot thickens for Lakewood Ranch library

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Friends of the East Manatee Library at Lakewood Ranch hosts fundraiser.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

At a Jan. 29 event hosted by Attardi’s Pizzeria to raise money for the Friends of the East Manatee Library at Lakewood Ranch, Bryan Sawyer was showing what he could do with the computer to his left and a 3-D printer to his right.

Sawyer, a Manatee County Libraries employee, was showing members of the organization what could be accomplished with the right technology.

Greenbrook’s Michelle DuJardin came over to watch Sawyer’s exhibition with her two youngest children, 5-year-old Donovan and 11-year-old David. From her arms, Donovan leaned forward, captivated.

“We need one of those at the library,” Donovan said with a grin. “We could make whatever we want.”

Glenda Lammers, Manatee County’s interim library director, said having a 3-D printer at a planned library in Lakewood Ranch would be on the top of her list. It would be part of a larger Science Technology Engineering Mathematics area.

“It’s a good way to get teenagers into the library,” she said.

The DuJardins and dozens of other East County families came to Attardi’s Pizzeria to support the Friends of the East Manatee Library at LWR, a group started to raise funds for the planned library’s programming. The event raised more than $1,200 for future library programs.

Manatee County has identified 2 acres north of the Premier Sports Campus as the site for a future library, but details such as exactly where, how big and what will be offered are still being decided by county officials. Manatee County commissioners still must approve overall plans for the larger 238-acre site, which includes Premier Sports Campus, land for parks, a future aquatics center and possibly government services buildings.

“We’re just in the very beginning of talking about things we would like,” Lammers said of the library. “It will be dependent on how much square footage we get. If it were up to me, it would be big because there are a lot of things we want to do.”

Lammers said the new East County library easily could be as large as Manatee County’s 50,000-square-foot Central Library, or at least double the size of the Braden River library (about 30,000 square feet), but the decision is not hers.

“Lakewood Ranch isn’t finished growing,” Lammers said. “We want to make sure on opening day it’s not at capacity.”

Ultimately, the size will be determined by how much money Manatee County commissioners budget for the project, in combination with how much will be available from library impact fees.

Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker has said he hopes to have a master plan finished for the overall Premier Sports Campus site by the end of 2019 with construction starting on at least some of the facilities in 2020. Manatee County commissioners still have to sign off on those plans before they can move forward.

Lammers said Manatee County’s library system currently is selecting a consultant to complete a master libraries plan. It will help determine where libraries should go, how big they should be and other details based on things like population and growth trends.

“We know what’s needed, but it’s nice to have outside experts,” Lammers said.

She said the library system still is gathering input from the community about its desires for the future library.

“(Feedback) needs to be from every different area in Lakewood Ranch,” she said. “We need kids, adults, older senior citizens.”

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