The East Baton Rouge Parish Library System is set to begin construction on a new branch at the site of the old Fairwood Country Club on Old Hammond Highway.
The Fairwood branch library will be the first library to be built in Metro Council member Mike Walker’s District 8 in southeast Baton Rouge.
“We have 16 schools in this district, including Episcopal High School and St. Thomas More Catholic School, and we don’t have a library here,” Walker said.
Walker and Mayor-President Kip Holden will both speak at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new branch at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at 12910 Old Hammond Highway.
Construction will cost about $4.4 million, and operations and maintenance expenses will be about $1 million a year, Assistant Library Director Mary Stein said.
The library will be 15,800 square feet and will feature about 40 computers, two early learning workstation computers for children as well as 10 laptop computers for training classes.
Like all of the other libraries in the parish, the Fairwood branch will have Wi-Fi.
Unlike any of the other parish libraries, the Fairwood branch will be the first one to feature a drive-thru window for books and other items that need to be dropped-off and picked-up, Stein said.
The library will also feature public meeting rooms, study rooms and quiet reading rooms.
Walker said the library started to become a reality when he and his legislative aide, Zona Pickens, were talking to the owners of the land that housed the former country club.
“We were discussing what was going to be done with the land. We were talking about zoning and development. That’s when my assistant, Zona, asked the owners if they would be willing to donate the land for a library. Just her asking that question led to all of this,” Walker said.
David Todd Waguespack and Kelly C. Sills, who represent Kodiak Equipment LLC, donated the land to the city-parish in July 2008 for the library, Stein said.
The land is 2.65 acres and is valued at $808,038, Stein said.
Stein said because the library system is conservative in its annual budgeting, the system had money leftover from previous years to fund construction of the Fairwood branch.
Stein said the majority of the money saved comes from salary savings.
The library system garnered the money to operate the new branch once the Metro Council voted in 2008 to not roll back the library system’s 11.1-mill property tax.
Walker said he’s excited about finally breaking ground.
“We’ve been getting calls about it (the new library) ever since it first came up that we were going to build it,” Walker said.
The branch is expected to be complete in fall 2012.