By Dave Taylor
After years of planning, dirt is finally being moved at the future home of the Hancock County Public Library’s Lewisport branch.
Workers with Jacobs Group began clearing out the lot at 400 2nd Street last week and setting up the silt fence and a security chain link fence for the construction of a new building that should be ready sometime next spring.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the traditional groundbreaking ceremony hasn’t happened yet, but library director Tina Snyder said it still will.
“We will be doing a groundbreaking,” she said. “Even though we will be turning dirt already and normally you do the groundbreaking before you do that, but because of COVID we kind of had to rearrange the plan.
“I’ve already purchased 100 little shovels and 100 little hard hats so we’re going to have a groundbreaking,” she said. “I really want a lot of the kids involved because Lewisport’s location just sees a large number of kids and young people that come in and use the facility and they’re excited and we’re excited and we want definitely to include them.”
The more than $2 million, 8,500 square foot building will be the culmination of many years of planning by the library board.
“(It’s) about 10 years in the making,” she said.
The library moved to its current location sharing space in City Hall in 2005, but before that they were in a 550 square foot space in the Lewisport Community Center.
Even in the newer space they were cramped for room, so the board began discussing a way to build or expand. In August 2017 the board bought the former Lewisport Elementary School that had been sitting vacant and razed it in 2018 to make way for the new building.
Last Wednesday workers pulled up the sidewalks and some remaining shrubs to begin the site work in earnest.
“The day that they actually started removing some of the weeds and the overgrown shrubbery and things like that down there, in just a few minutes’ time it was already starting to take on a new look,” Snyder said.
Groundwork will continue for the next couple of weeks, she said, and then construction can begin on the project that is contractually obligated to take no more than 330 days.
The board has hired someone to take drone footage of the construction as it progresses, which will be shared with the public, and Snyder said she thinks the community will be as excited for the branch as she and even the contractors are.
“(The contractors) said they’re really looking forward to this project because it is one that will be giving back to a community and providing a legacy for years and years to come,” she said.
And Snyder said the city’s residents can come celebrate as soon as she and the board can finalize plans for a groundbreaking maybe in July.
“Even if we had to kind of make sure people are masked up or whatever, or just using their judgment,” she said, “and if we have refreshments it might be a pick it up and go, don’t hang around under the tent with the refreshments, just get it and go kind of thing.”