Improvements to the Halton Hills Cultural Centre may occur at the same time the Georgetown branch library is expanded it was revealed recently. In an in camera session last December, council gave Recreation and Parks Director Terry Alyman the go-ahead-- and $20,000-- to conduct a "visioning" exercise to determine how the John Elliott Theatre and Gallery, could be updated at the same time as the library expansion. The amenities are located in the same Church St. building as the library. The council decision was contained in the minutes of the library board meeting released this week. The visioning had the library's architect, Chamberlain Architect Services, leading a discussion with potential donors, stakeholders and arts groups on suggested enhancements. Then the firm will prepare conceptual drawings on how these improvements could be married into designs for the expanded library. For example, locating a multipurpose space in the newly-designed library near the theatre for shared use. "But they are not going to compromise the program they have with the library," said Alyman, explaining that the library's needs comes first. "A number of areas at the Cultural Centre will be impacted regardless of what happens, when you're looking at that size of an addition," added Alyman in an interview Monday, pointing to the lobby, main entrance and washrooms. "It will change the whole dynamics of the facility. So separate and apart from what the library is doing, we should look at what opportunities might exist to capitalize on some of the work that might be happening with the Town may double up construction in bid to save money Not only would the Town save money to do the work at the same time as the library expansion, the local neighbourhood would be impacted only once by construction, he said. Funding for the enhancements will be separate from the capital funding set aside for the library expansion, and must still be voted on by council at a future meeting. Director of Library Services Jane Diamanti said she is comfortable with the approach the Recreation and Parks Department is taking, especially after getting assurance that there will be no encroachment on library space. Both she and library board building committee chair Sheila Taylor participated in the visioning exercise, and was happy there could be improvements to the lobby, entrance and washrooms, which the library board has been wanting for a long time. The Georgetown branch library was given the go ahead last year to expand onto a property immediately
to the south on Market Street. Early estimates suggest that this expansion might be in the range of 14,000 square feet, meaning that the Georgetown branch would double its
current size. Construction is not scheduled to begin until 2008. Phase one of the expansion project has already begun with consultation sessions with key stakeholders, and an opportunity for the public to comment on preliminary designs will likely be held in early April. No specific dates have been set yet. After gathering feedback from the public and staff, Chamberlain will produce a number of site/concept drawings, to be presented to town council in the late spring. Chamberlain has much experience with the construction of public libraries having designed eight in the last 10 years across Ontario, several of which required the integration of historic buildings. Diamanti said the library board and staff welcome the opportunity to work closely with the community, and with such a knowledgeable and well-regarded architectural team. "Together we will create a library that is functional, accessible, attractive and complementary of the church's heritage features-- it will be a civic asset of which we can all be proud," she said.