More space. More amenities. And somewhere near the Millcreek Mall.
That’s what the public wants in a renovated Millcreek branch of the Erie County Public Library, according to Bostwick Design Partnership, an architectural firm that for the past year has conducted a needs assessment and feasibility study on the Millcreek Branch Library’s future.
County Council approves study:County Council greenlights Millcreek Branch Library relocation feasibility study
The study, which was approved by Erie County Council in 2021 and made possible by a $25,000 state Keystone Fund grant and a local match of $25,000, included a series of public surveys, conceptual designs and cost estimates, said David Brennan, director of Bostwick’s Erie office.
Presenting the results Thursday to Erie County Council, Brennan made clear the public’s desire for a larger, more welcoming Millcreek branch, and discussed the design and potential cost of such a facility.
“It’s definitely not going to be in the same location because that space is too small,” Brennan said. “There’s so much activity at that branch, they just don’t have the current space to do it in.”
The Millcreek branch is considered the second busiest library in the county, trailing only the flagship Blasco Memorial Library on Erie’s Bayfront. The branch resides in a leased space of roughly 7,000 square feet — at $12,000 a month — within the Millcreek Mall Pavilion.
Brennan said a new Millcreek branch site — based on recommendations from the public — would be closer to 17,000 square feet, making it the largest of all the county’s library branches.
Conceptual designs show the site having more community rooms and gathering spaces for children, teens and adults; an Idea Lab or maker space, where visitors can create materials using computers and 3-D printers; and an outdoor space for events.
“People just want a place where they can hang out — like in Blasco, where you can be by yourself or in a group setting or go to the teen area or the computer area,” Brennan said. “They’re really looking for it to be a gathering space.”
Millcreek branch receives grant:Erie County Public Library’s Millcreek branch receives $25,000 grant
More space, however, means a greater cost.
The study showed that minimal renovations to an extensive makeover of an existing building could cost between $2.5 million to $4.2 million, or between $95 and $175 per square foot. Constructing a new facility could range from $7.3 to $8 million, or between $325 to $350 per square foot.
Renovating an existing site could also last about six months, as opposed to new construction, which could take up to a year, according to the study.
Brennan said the public generally liked the Millcreek branch near the Millcreek Mall, citing its easy accessibility and available parking.
Based on this input, Brennan said the study looked for potential properties within a 1.5-mile radius of the mall, specifically looking for sites that could accommodate 1.5 to 2 acres of space; between 16,000 to 18,000 square feet; up to 72 parking spaces; and green space and sidewalks.
Brennan said Bostwick looked at specific buildings and properties but didn’t want to publicly identify them, insisting sellers might increase their prices if they knew the county was an interested buyer.
Since the Millcreek branch’s lease ends in 2025 — it’s the only leased facility of the Erie County Public Library’s five locations — Brennan said the county still has time to determine a location.
“There are other areas of Millcreek Township that are possible,” said Brennan, indicating the 1.5-mile radius was merely arbitrary. “There’s definitely a need in this area around the mall but it doesn’t necessarily have to be exactly in that area, we could possibly move it to Summit. It’s not known yet.”
Brennan, who gave only a brief summation of the study Thursday, said Bostwick is considering a public meeting on the full report at a later date.
He voiced optimism that the county will ultimately approve funding to relocate the library.
“I think there’s definitely a need, there’s definitely the public support, it’s just a matter of allocating the resources and that will be up to the county executive and County Council,” he said.
County Council Vice-chairperson Mary Rennie also voiced her support.
“I don’t think the branch, such as it is, truly represents the Millcreek community as well as it could,” said Rennie, who is a former executive director of the Erie County Public Library. “I think it’s time to do something that’s a little more innovative, a little more updated, and I think this offers that opportunity.”
Rennie said Erie County Executive Brenton Davis will likely narrow down the recommendations and bring a measure to council for a final vote.
“Is it going to happen tomorrow? No. This is going to be a long process,” she said. “The funding is a question that’s hanging out there too. I imagine they’re going to be seeking grant funding.”