Central Library plans new renovations

The Waco Central Library underwent an extensive interior remodel from summer 2011 to February 2013. There are now plans to begin expanding the library’s parking lot, adding new sidewalks, improving lighting and updating landscaping starting early next month. These developments should aid traffic flow in and out of the parking lot and will enhance the library’s aesthetic appeal. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

The downtown Waco Central Library is expecting parking renovations to begin early next month. The project plans to expand parking and improve aesthetic appeal around the library.

City council members approved the renovation contract at their council meeting on Oct. 20.

“The contract has been awarded, and we expect construction to start in early December and take about four months,” said Facilities Program Manager Vince Tobola.

Library director Essy Day is involved with the planning. Currently, the parking lot has issues with traffic flow, there are no sidewalks in the back of the facility and entrances and exits are not clearly marked. Cars leave at the same time people come in off 18th Street, which often obstructs traffic flow, Day said. The upcoming project will address these problems.

“The entrances are going to be more defined, which will allow for better flow, which will increase safety for library users and pedestrians,” Day said.

The plans also include removing a large area of dirt that currently takes up potential parking spaces.

“Right now, we have an empty lot behind our parking lot that is just dirt. They are going to pave over that, so it’s going to expand our parking,” Day said.

One of the most exciting aspects of the renovations is the increase in aesthetic value, Day said. Improvements such as landscaping, increased lighting and an added sidewalk and ramp will all be implemented.

“It will be brighter, it will be prettier and it will just flow a lot better, which will make it safer for the pedestrians and the library users,” Day said.

The Central Library was closed from summer 2011 to February 2013 while undergoing a $5.8 million interior renovation. The project included stripping the walls in order to add more space, color and light.

The current parking lot project’s goal is to have the outside of the library better match the appeal of the inside. Day said when the project is finished, the library and the library’s surrounding areas are expected to better complement each other.

“We’re really excited about it; it’s going to be really nice. I saw a rendering of it, and it’s going to be really pretty,” Day said. “The library will be more complete.”

City Manager Dale Fisseler commended Day’s hard work and vision for the library. Day has been working as the director of the Waco McLennan County Libraries since May.

“Essy Day has been with us just long enough to help us understand a better vision for our library system,” Fisseler said.

The representative for the council of the Library Commission, John Kinnaird, said although Day has not been with the city long, she took initiative in this project and has done a lot quickly.

“I have gotten to see Essy work firsthand, and I can say that she’s done a lot in a short time period, and we are happy to have her,” Kinnaird said.