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With grant, Baldwin Borough set to move library

| Monday, March 20, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Dreams of having a new public library in Baldwin Borough have turned into reality.

Officials have announced the borough has been selected to receive $500,000 toward renovating the Leland Community Center to provide the space needed for the library.

Council members have budgeted $300,000 toward the project, which was contingent on the library receiving a grant from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund.

The public library has shared space and parking with other tenants in the former Wallace School building for almost 30 years. Library officials have been searching for a larger facility to call their own since the 1990s.

The grant is through the state Department of Education but is specific for libraries.

Library director Jenny Worley took the lead in writing the grant application that was submitted in October. The amount granted to the library surprised Worley.

“It is very shocking because it is a competitive grant process. There are so many unknowns,” Worley said. “I'm very excited and very proud of all the hard work that went into this.”

Library board of trustee president Paul Hayhurst said the idea of transforming the Leland Center into a community library made sense.

“The library was interested in the Leland building because it's a community asset,” Hayhurst said.

The borough-owned Leland Center at Wolfe Drive and Knoedler Road closed in 2015 because of roof damage.

Necessary repairs to the roof is estimated to cost $300,000.

The state has set guidelines for the library to follow before the grant is paid on a reimbursement basis. The project has to begin within 90 days of April 1 and be completed in 18 months.

“It's really a renovation and that takes money and time,” Hayhurst said.

Representatives with GBBN Architects provided preliminary interior and exterior drawings to satisfy part of the grant process as well as show that the space would meet the library's needs, Worley said.

The library board also had a capital campaign fundraising specialist conduct interviews with the community to determine the best ways to raise funds.

For now, the focus is on following state guidelines and finalizing plans to get the project under way.

While high-end estimates to renovate the facility could be as much as $2.1 million, Hayhurst said the goal is to be open in 18 months and then determine what can be done to make the facility better.

The Baldwin Library shares space in the former Wallace School Building, which is owned by the Baldwin-Whitehall School District.

Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805 or jspezialetti@tribweb.com.

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