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MAHONING COUNTY Library expansion just a concept -- for now



Published: Fri, January 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



'It could happen,' but probably not anytime soon.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Even librarians can dream.

4M Company Architects in Boardman showed them drawings Thursday of a larger, remodeled main library in a revitalized Smoky Hollow neighborhood.

Library leaders said they don't have the money to make the improvements the architects suggest: a glass-walled atrium in the front of the library that would envelop a cafe, meeting room and gathering space with seating and restrooms; an auditorium; a new garden entrance to the first floor; and new second-floor administrative offices, balcony and skylight.

It could happen, said Janet Loew, spokeswoman for the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. For now, though, it's a concept, she said.

Library leaders hired the Boardman firm to dream up an expansion that would make the facility a worthy partner in the transformation of the struggling Smoky Hollow neighborhood.

Symbol of the future

Planners have in mind for the area a $250 million residential and arts community.

The two-story branch is at 305 Wick Ave., in the southwestern corner of the Sleepy Hollow sector. The neighborhood is adjacent to Youngstown State University, and Madison, Wick, Rayen and Andrews avenues form its boundaries.

The grand plan comes at a time when even current funding appears at risk. The state must plug a $4 billion deficit this summer, and agencies know their revenue is in jeopardy. The state writes checks for about 85 percent of the library's budget.

It's "a symbol of our future," said the architect, Robert Mastriana, of 4M Company Architects.

Loew said the library board does not have an estimate of what the Mastriana plan, for which it paid $24,000, would cost.




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