Business
5:32 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

Forsyth County Commissioners Consider New Central Library Proposals

Despite voter approval for a new Central Library in Forsyth County three years ago, where it will go remains undecided.

Forsyth County Commissioners are considering several sites in Winston-Salem for the new Central Library. This image shows a design from local architect Glenn Fulk, AIA. Fulk's plan includes renovating the former sheriff's department building and adding a park to the project.
Credit Glenn Fulk, AIA

In 2010, voters in Forsyth County approved a $40-million bond referendum to build a new Central Library and new Branch Libraries in Kernersville and Clemmons. Last week, the County Commission received an update on

“What we did was basically take all of the proposals whether they are extensions of current ones or this Carl Russell Center site, which is a new area, and included it with the information the board was given on Monday evening. This facility will last for at least a generation, so commissioners say they feel like it may be hasty not to consider those four additional proposals,” says Damon Sanders-Pratt, the deputy county manager.

Sanders-Pratt says commissioners are considering more than half a dozen sites and ten proposals, including one from the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, which proposes placing the library at the current Winston Square Park.

Two other potential sites are county-owned:  the existing Central Library site on Fifth Street and the former Sheriff’s Office building on Third Street.

Glenn Fulk, a New York architect who is originally from Winston-Salem, wants to renovate the sheriff’s office and extend his design to Civic Plaza, recently renamed Merschel Plaza. He wants to build a rooftop park over the library.

“I want the library to be the park and the park to be the library in order to create a center of activity and community,” says Fulk.

Fulk says the project will be a big asset to the community, no matter which design is chosen.

“Other cities have made these types of investments in innovative, dynamic parks and libraries near their downtown and have seen tremendous economic impact from them. An example of that is Seattle, which opened a dynamic new library and saw the amount of visitors coming through the door increase from 660,000 the year before it opened to 2.3 million, and from that they saw a direct net new revenue of $15.6 million, directly attributable to the park itself,” says Fulk.

Sanders-Pratt says if one of the county owned properties is chosen for the library, both city and county officials will have to work together on the project. He says no discussions have taken place at this point.

In the meantime, the Forsyth County Commission will meet again to review all of the library proposals during its next meeting on October 10.