Future library on track, with or without Purple Line

Development of Silver Spring’s new library will roll forward, whether or not the Purple Line mass-transit project runs through its ground floor, the hood’s regional director said.

“The county executive wants this library project to move forward. He also doesn’t want to create a roadblock to the Purple Line” Gary Stith, director of Silver Spring’s regional center, told the pedestrian safety committee Monday night. “We’re going to have to find a way to work around this.”

Early plans spread the library’s collection over two floors on the corner of Fenton and Bonifant streets, according to library manager Dan Beavin. If state planners choose a Bonifant Street route for the Purple Line, there could be a station through the library’s first floor.

Along with the Purple Line station, the library site could have up to 120 free parking spots, Beavin said. “That’s a lot in an urban center like this,” he admitted.

“A lot of people will be walking to this library, but not everybody,” Beavin said. “We have a lot of people who live in the suburban areas and need to drive.”

Some with the pedestrian safety committee objected to having that many free parking spots, though they did feel some parking was needed. “We have to get out of this car mentality, but we do need handicap parking,” one unidentified woman told the committee.

However, one downtown resident felt ample free parking was necessary. Felicia Eberling, who lives across Colesville Road from the current library, believed the Purple Line wasn’t expansive enough to transport library patrons from Silver Spring’s more suburban neighborhoods to the downtown area.

“This isn’t a city,” she told the committee. “This is a suburb that’s gone development crazy.”

Questions of the future library’s size also have been raised. According to a planning department study, Silver Spring’s new library will serve 87,000 patrons within about 40,000 square feet of space. That size is comparable to the new library in suburban Germantown, Beavin explained.

Compare that with the library in Rockville’s town center. That facility serves 53,000 patrons within 62,000 square feet of space. It also has 160,000 items circulating in its collection, Beavin explained.

The amount of reading material at Silver Spring’s library would be “way smaller than Wheaton, way smaller than Rockville,” Beavin admitted. Currently, the Silver Spring library has 100,000 items in circulation. That’s expected to grow to 125,000 once the new library is complete, Beavin said.

Image courtesy of MNCPPC.

29 Responses to “Future library on track, with or without Purple Line”

  1. WeCanDoBetter says:

    “Rockville library- 53,000 patrons within 62,000 square feet
    New Silver Spring library- 87,000 patrons within about 40,000 square feet”

    This doesn’t make sense to me. Shouldn’t the new Silver Spring library be bigger than the one in Rockville based on the expected number of patrons? I hope the new Silver Spring library is not outdated before it has even been built.

    As far as 120 parking spaces are concerned, this is truly a ridiculous number. Where are they going to fit 120 parking spaces on the new site? Don’t we have a huge, underused parking structure right across the street from the proposed library site? Let’s focus more on expanding the size of the library and decreasing the number of parking spaces.

  2. Springvale Roader says:

    Penguin, is the image which accompanies the story supposed to represent what the finished library and surroundings will look like? If so, it’s about as believable as those films from the 1950’s which show people jetpacking and flying around in cars over those futuristic cities of 2000.

    Editor’s note: The image was taken from the cover sheet for “A demographic update for the new Silver Spring community library”, a study conducted by the planning department. Gas up those jet packs! — JD (Feb 27, 2008)

  3. DMZ says:

    WeCanDoBetter: the emphasis was that the parking should be free. The parking structures are generally not.

    Also, I think a station on the library’s first floor would be _awesome_.

  4. BusBabe says:

    A rail station brings major rezoning concerns that would extend into the residential neighborhood nearby. It would also threaten small businesses, because rezoning means replacement with something big and expensive. The site is within walking distance of the Silver Spring Metro station. It cold also be served by the VanGo.

  5. Karen says:

    It is my understanding that the County has not yet aquired all the properties it needs for the library. Does anyone know which properties still need to be purchased? Also, Gary Stith told us that they will be siezing one property because they could not make a purchase deal. Does anyone know which property this is? Gary wouldn’t tell us.

    Editor’s note: Thanks for your query, Karen. According to Gary Stith, one lot — the auto-repair shop along Wayne Ave, between the former Golden House and Moose Lodge — is now going through the condemnation process. That is, the county wants to score via eminent domain because it couldn’t come to a purchase deal with the property owner. — JD (Feb 27, 2008)

  6. Niko says:

    I think the property they wanted to seize was the Asian take out place on Wayne and Fenton which has been purchased. I agree that 120 parking spaces is way to much for that area since the garage is down the street and its only 50 cents an hour and free after 7 (last time i checked) which is very resonable. Having people walk over to it will increase pedestrian activity in that area which that area does not have as much as other parts of downtown Silver Spring.

  7. paul_silver_spring says:

    “This isn’t a city, This is a suburb gone development crazy.”

    OK… I’ll buy the argument that the SS library will serve a larger area than just downtown, and therefore requires *some* parking for those patrons. But DTSS, specifically, is a national posterchild for New Urbanism, a planning concept that took off in this country over the past 2 decades defined as urban living in a surburban setting. A city on the outskirts of a bigger city. Pedestrian friendly and transit oriented. Get your heads out of the sand – like it or not DTSS is indeed an urban environment. Go back however many years and oppose the CBD zoning if you want it different.

  8. cantheciviccenter says:

    What they should do is can that awful Civic Building and build a combined Libary/Civic Center. The County already owns the site and its a huge site with adjacent parking. They could build up if not enough room. Right now they are aquiring land that the state will steal away for its purple streetcar named desire while the county sits pretty with designs that it cannot build becuase of the MTA reservation.

  9. Hypothetically speaking …

    Should library patrons pay for parking at (or near) the new library?

  10. Springvale Roader says:

    Jennifer, I vote no on paid parking for spaces dedicated to the library. To me, a free public library system is one of the crown jewels of a civilized society, and we should do all we can to keep libraries in their exalted place.

    Charge double for parking near fast food restaurants.

  11. Vagrarian says:

    Big no on paid parking at the library. Even though, I should admit, the new library will be only a couple of blocks away from my current office (although, who knows if I’ll be working there when it opens?), and I would probably do my business there between work and home.

    Although…it just occurred to me…cheap folks might park in the library lot and then go to a movie or do their shopping. I have to admit…when I lived up that way, I would sometimes park my car in the library lot in Hagerstown, MD, go in the library by one entrance, and leave by another, do whatever business I had downtown, and then duck back in the library, quickly checking out a book or two, and then leaving. Some others might have the same idea. (sigh) No easy solution there….

  12. WeCanDoBetter says:

    “A member of the Lenox Hill Tenants Association had this suggestion: Offer free handicapped parking and only a limited number of general-use spaces. She believed tight parking would encourage library patrons to walk or take mass transit, while still providing some free parking for those who absolutely must drive. What say ye?”

    I think that is a good idea. I assume that there will be bike racks on the premises. What about spaces for motor scooters? Downtown Silver Spring might be a good place to encourage folks to use motor scooters. Besides bikes (and possibly motor scooters), people will be using the metro, purple line, bus line and VanGo service to get to the new library.

  13. WeCanDoBetter says:

    Borrowing books and using the services within the library should be free. Parking is a different story. Since when is it a right to have free parking? I have been to the Rockville library and I do not recall there being free parking.

    Editor’s note: Actually, parking is free at the Rockville library. For the convoluted details, click here. The only library in the county system that doesn’t provide free parking is the one in Bethesda, according to Silver Spring library manager Dan Beavin. — JD (Feb 27, 2008)

  14. Springvale Roader wrote:

    “Charge double for parking near fast food restaurants.”

    But what if the fast-food restaurants are next to the library? Bear in mind that Baja Fresh is a block from the future library site, and the Crescent Cafe and Ghar-E-Kabob are just around the corner.

    Vagrarian wrote:

    “Cheap folks might park in the library lot and then go to a movie or do their shopping.”

    Who can resist the temptation of free parking? And who will enforce parking rules at a library garage? Library personnel sure won’t, manager Dan Beavin said Monday.

    A member of the Lenox Hill Tenants Association had this suggestion: Offer free handicapped parking and only a limited number of general-use spaces. She believed tight parking would encourage library patrons to walk or take mass transit, while still providing some free parking for those who absolutely must drive.

    What say ye?

  15. olblackbear says:

    First of all the Wayne Street Parking garage is hardly under used. BUT that should be the place that library patrons park except for some handicapped spaces. Forget free parking. How about “real cheap” across the street at the Wayne Street garage. Lose 100 parking spaces and gain some more square footage for library use.

    And DTSS is an urban center, thankfully. Remember what it was like ten years ago. If you’re not taking advantage of all the new, exciting downtown and the expansion around it, your missing out on a wonderful transition to urban life.

  16. b says:

    I second the suggestion for bicycle racks.All of downtown Silver Spring has about as many bike racks as a large grocery store in Germany. I’m always getting yelled at for locking my bike to benches because bike racks are few & far between.

  17. Vagrarian says:

    The idea of the library validating tickets for parking occurs to me, but that may end up being more trouble than it’s worth.

    I like the idea of free parking at a library…but the more I think about it, the more I think it may not work for DTSS library. A little too much potential for abuse there (says a former abuser). And my inner idealist says that people need to be encouraged to walk, use mass transit, or use their bikes. And put me in the “More Bike Racks” camp.

  18. DMZ says:

    I find it fascinating that some folks would simultaneously not want people driving to the library, yet vote for free parking. Free parking will make it _more likely_ people will drive. If you only want people to drive when it’s absolutely necessary, paid parking is a great way to promote that.

    Limited free spaces will just tick people off, IMHO. Play hard or go home, you know?

  19. Springvale Roader says:

    I said, “Charge double for parking near fast food restaurants.”

    Jennifer, you asked, “But what if the fast-food restaurants are next to the library? Bear in mind that Baja Fresh is a block from the future library site, and the Crescent Cafe and Ghar-E-Kabob are just around the corner.”

    Two things. One, I suggest free parking only for those spots dedicated to the library. Second, I was being a bit tongue in cheek but, alas, internet communication without emoticons doesn’t always convey that.

  20. Springvale Roader says:

    Whoops, forgot to add that FWIW, I wouldn’t call Ghar-E-Kabob or the Crescent Cafe fast food restaurants. Come to think of it, aside from some stuff on Ellsworth and the McDeath’s near the metro, there aren’t too many fast food restaurants in DTSS, fortunately.

  21. Nancy says:

    Hey, Paul, you said “But DTSS, specifically, is a national posterchild for New Urbanism…Pedestrian friendly and transit oriented.” You must be a driver! I was nearly hit on Sat. afternoon by a car blowing through a red light on Ga. at Thayer. Can site many similar incidents on Ga. and other streets. A railroad on the street would be more thing to dodge. And they keep adding projects, which both cars and delivery & trash trucks will drive to.

  22. SoCo says:

    I like the cheap-but-not-free parking in the Wayne Av garage concept.

    Speaking of fast food, I wonder if a drive-thru window for picking up reserved books will be included.

  23. Vagrarian says:

    Yeah, the pay-parking is looking better to me as a solution for that area. Just do the building and leave the parking for the Wayne Ave Garage.

    I do have a knee-jerk desire for free parking, I admit. But I am driving less, from a mix of a small amount of cracked environmental idealism and a large amount of economic necessity, as gas is flippin’ expensive….

  24. paul_silver_spring says:

    Nancy… I’ll forgive you for obviously not being up to date on my usual rants on these comments sections .. you said “I must be a driver”. While I own a car, it spends most of it’s life in the garage beneath the building. I am TOTALLY in favor of tweaking every last traffic light in town until it is totally pedestrian efficient, even at the detrement to traffic. Yes, I indeed think it should take more than 5 minutes to get through an urban center. Anywho… not sure where “You must be a driver” comes from based on what I said…

    As for the dangerous railroads on the streets, however… Amsterdam, Dublin, Paris, Budapest…. just the beginning of a long list of VERY successful urban streetcar programs. Some (Amsterdam and Budapest) are there because they’ve been there for 50+ years. Some (Dublin) are brand new, because it worked so well everywhere else on the continent they realized it was more cost effective and they could afford to connect 10’s of times more citizens than with a overpriced underground subway. Are we really that much stupider than the rest of the globe that we can’t manage to not get hit by a giant bus, that runs a guaranteed route on a track, with bells whistles and lights?? Not getting hit by a BICYCLE in amsterdam, now THAT’s a whole different story!

  25. b says:

    paul_silver_spring is right. Those bicycles in Amsterdam come at you in all directions. And if you spend too much time looking out for bicycles, you eventually step in dog doo. In the Leidsplein you have narrow streets with 2 way tram tracks, cars, bikes, and pedestrians, and the traffic moves better than it does on Georgia Ave.

  26. DMZ says:

    Paul, this isn’t Europe. I know you love the system there, but our society is just not built around the same set of cultural assumptions, especially vis a vis transportation. Saying “I like the way they did this in Amsterdam” doesn’t mean it’s actually feasible to do it here. I would warn against overgeneralizing.

    Editor’s note: This comment was edited for content. — JD (Mar 3, 2008)

  27. pj says:

    Let’s follow the process that the Rockville library uses and have people park in the county parking gargages. According to the press release, it appears that those who use the library are afforded free parking at the local county parking garages. I vote for eliminating all parking on site and having folks who want to drive to the library park in the County parking lot that will be located right across the street. Maybe they can build a pedestrian bridge that would link the Wayne Ave. parking garage with the new library. With the amount of space saved by eliminating the parking, we could then expand the size of the library.

  28. paul_silver_spring says:

    DMZ – All I’m saying is that our widespread fears of trains on streets is not founded in reality, and europe is a clear example of that. I don’t know from personal experience, but I believe there are numerous US examples as well, including seattle and st louis maybe??? I don’t know for sure, which is why I cite the european cities that I have been to as examples. There are many things Europeans do better than us and we can learn a lot from, and plenty we do better than one. However, I would defintely put our overall urban development plans on the first list.

  29. wileyone says:

    I vote no free parking.

    Have you ever tried to get into DTSS by car on Friday night? Fenton is already a parking lot. The last thing we need to do is invite 120 MORE cars into DTSS.

    This is not so much about the library as it is about traffic planning for the DTSS boom. With the additional mixed-use development (more residents) planned heading down Fenton it’s just going to get worse. If we’re teetering on traffic annoyance now, adding 1000 more residences (total guess) is going to make it even more crazy. I say walk, bike, transit, etc., but no more parking spaces.

    And I’m all for new-urban planning, smart growth, or whatever you want to call it, but just adding people to a congested area without increasing infrastructure capacity to deal with them is short sighted. If Fenton isn’t widened to 2 lanes each way with no street parking it’s going to be impossible. And why isn’t there a left turn arrow from Fenton (N) onto Wayne (W)? What a cluster-flub.

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