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Pocomoke library to operate in firehouse during construction of new building

A lease agreement will allow the Pocomoke library to operate from a renovated firehouse while a new building is under construction.

Pocomoke library rendering-file

A rendering shows the planned design of a new Pocomoke library branch under construction.
File rendering

By Bethany Hooper, Associate Editor

A lease agreement will allow the Pocomoke library to operate from a renovated firehouse while a new facility is under construction.

The Worcester County Commissioners on July 2 voted 7-0 to proceed with a lease agreement for temporary library space at 5 5th Street in Pocomoke. Officials say the old fire station, which was recently renovated, will house library operations on the first floor while a new branch is being constructed on Market Street.

“A temporary location will be needed starting in September until December 2025/January 2026,” Library Director Jennifer Ranck said in a statement this week. “Construction is estimated to take 14 months.”

In recent years, officials have been working on plans for a new library branch in Pocomoke. What is currently being proposed is a 12,000-square-foot facility at the library’s current location on Market Street. The new branch will feature gallery space, rain gardens, a children’s porch and dedicated reading areas, as well as multipurpose meeting space that will be accessible to the community when the library is otherwise closed.

While construction is underway, library operations will need to relocate. To that end, Ranck sought the commissioners’ approval on July 2 to lease space at the renovated firehouse on 5th Street.

“Some modifications to the site are needed, including the addition of a small counter and sink,” Ranck wrote to the commissioners. “The library would begin moving to the temporary site in late August or early September.”

With no discussion this week, the commissioners voted to proceed with the lease agreement at a price of $3,063 per month, plus triple-net lease fees of roughly $448. The agreement includes an additional $7,500 to paid out for the buildout of the library space. Ranck said in a statement this week that most services will continue from the library’s temporary location.

“We will be able to maintain most services at a temporary location — material checkout, computer use, etc.,” she said. “We are hoping to have a meeting space available for things like book discussions, story times, and other enrichment programs.”

The commissioners this week also approved a request for design services of IT and AV systems at the new Pocomoke library. The $23,825 cost will be paid for from excess funds for the Berlin branch project.

“The good news is I did receive a call from the Maryland State Library Agency and said we have $63,000 to give you …,” Ranck told the commissioners Tuesday. “So I do have the monies to cover that extra expense.”

Officials earlier this year reported that the total cost of the Pocomoke library project is estimated at $8.1 million, which includes $400,000 to $500,000 in value engineering. Last month, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a $3.99 million grant for the facility’s construction.

This story appears in the July 11, 2024, print edition of the Bayside Gazette.