Fire Marshal limits building capacity to 50 persons
Nineteen area citizens turned out for a meeting at Crozet Library Nov. 28 to volunteer as organizers for a campaign to bring concerted public pressure on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors to fund construction of the new Crozet Library without further delay.
The need for a new building got more acute earlier in the month when the Albemarle County fire marshal ruled that no more than 50 people may be in the library at any one time. Some events at the library, such as the Soiree evenings and kids’ programs, routinely draw more participants than that.
Jane Kulow of Ivy, who stepped forward this fall to lead the effort, told the group that she believes “We are closer now than ever before [to getting a decision to fund the project]. We need to be vocal, continuous and loud. The best thing we can do is contact the members of the Board of Supervisors—often.”
Kulow argued the case for the library herself before the Supervisors Nov. 2, making a detailed presentation that Supervisor Dennis Rooker complimented as the best he has seen since he came on the board. Kulow also recently talked before the Crozet Community Advisory Council and the Crozet Community Association, two civic groups already staunch supporters of the project.
She told the volunteers that she has “built the infrastructure for a community communications effort” through a website, an email address, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages under the name “build Crozet Library” and urged that these avenues be used to link supportive citizens and keep them abreast of the campaign.
Messages sent to Supervisors at [email protected] are received by all the Supervisors, she noted. She also asked for volunteers to address the Supervisors at their meeting Dec. 7 during the public comment time at 9 a.m.
The volunteers identified organizations that could be approached to support the cause, such as civic groups, homeowners’ associations, Crozet-area businesses, school PTOs, churches, and Boy and Girl Scout troops, and volunteers took responsibility for contacting them and urging them to come forward on behalf of the library.
Bill Schrader and Tim Tolson, who have been public advocates of the library for the last few years, said they welcomed the greater involvement. Tolson is a member of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library Board and Schrader heads the Friends of the Library foundation that is responsible for raising the $1.6 million needed to furnish the library and buy books and other materials for it. Fresh faces are needed to help express the public’s desire for the facility, they agreed.
While some volunteers were ready to pay higher taxes to get funding, the group agreed that a tax rate increase was not part of their purpose and the county should be able to allocate money for construction, or to make payments on a loan, out of current revenues. Some expressed frustration that the western bypass around Charlottesville may cost as much as $80 million per mile but that $6.2 million can’t be found for the library.
Volunteer Doris Savage of Cory Farm noted that the new library’s parking lot is now open for downtown parking, but “Oops! There’s no library!”
Volunteers proposed holding a “read-in” in the parking lot, marching in the Crozet Christmas parade to draw attention to the library, and perhaps forming a human chain along the building’s future foundation for the sake of TV news cameras.
Schrader told the volunteers that the Friends started fundraising twice, in 2007 and 2009, and both times suspended efforts when the County dropped the intention to build. About $140,000 was raised. “We will not start again until the bid has gone out,” he promised.
Contact the group via email at [email protected].