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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE The site of the former City Hospital building south of the Fayetteville Public Library. The land is the site of a planned expansion of the library.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Library Board will have to figure out what to do with the leftover acre or so it will have after the 82,500-square-foot expansion opens in fall 2020.

Board members discussed the matter briefly Thursday but decided to hold off on anything concrete. In particular, the planned Cultural Arts Corridor downtown, which incorporates the Fay Jones Parkland immediately west of the library, leaves a lot up in the air, members agreed.

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To learn more about the Fayetteville Public Library expansion, go to:

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"It's strategically smart for us, I think, to say, 'Well, let's see what that turns into,'" Board Member Bret Park said. "That could determine the value."

Voters in the city will be asked April 9 to consider a $226 million bond referendum. One of the questions would dedicate $30 million to build an arts corridor and replacement parking downtown. Part of the proposed project involves transforming the Walton Arts Center parking lot, but another piece would make a nature attraction out of the Fay Jones woods.

Executive Director David Johnson said he has gotten a lot of inquiries about the to-be-determined land that will sit south of the expansion. A few options include setting up a long-term lease, selling it, opening it up to private development or affordable housing or setting up space for artists, he said.

The decision will be up to the board, Johnson said. In the meantime, crews will use the land for staging during the anticipated 18-month expansion construction period.

"I think we need to begin coming to some understanding of what we would like to do with that piece," Johnson said.

Board Member Sallie Overbey said the library may need it. Maylon Rice, another board member, said nothing should happen to the land until the expansion is up and running.

"My wish is we'd keep that property, rather than sell it off and have a Taco Bell or something," he said.

Johnson also announced groundbreaking for the library expansion is planned for March 2. The date marks Read Across America Day.

Department heads have formed a transition team to decide how the library will stay open during construction. The board decided in October to keep the main library open by closing some spaces and moving sections around.

"We're having some real robust conversations around how that's going to unfold," Johnson said.

The board on Thursday signed off on a $2.8 million contract with Crossland Construction for site prep and utility work before construction begins in earnest. The item will go to the City Council for approval.

Additionally, Rock Street from School to West avenues will close Feb. 4. The city approved vacating that stretch of the street to make room for the expansion.

Johnson said a new entrance off West Avenue, planned as part of the existing library's renovation, should open by April.

NW News on 01/18/2019

Print Headline: Options weighed for remaining library land

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