By Tamas Mondovics
What many area residents and library patrons would consider long overdue is now ready to begin in the heart of Brandon in the form of a major parking-improvement construction project.
According to Hillsborough County Public Works officials, the front part of the parking lot of the Brandon Regional Library, located in the Sandy Rodriguez Center at 619 Vonderburg Dr., will undergo major improvements beginning in January 2013.
According to County spokesperson, Jennifer Hall, these improvements to the library, which ranks fourth in monthly circulation of materials and third in number of in-person visits among all branches in the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System, will provide a number of benefits to library customers.
“The improvements will include six new parking spaces in front of the library, as well as the elimination of the concrete steps at Vonderburg Drive, which will redirect pedestrians toward the existing ADA accessible ramp to provide a safer foot path through the parking lot,” Hall said.
Other improvements will involve the main entry drive, which will be re-graded, lowering the incline to improve access and safety, while the front portion of the lot will be re-striped and new traffic control signs will be installed to improve traffic flow and safety.
An additional right-turn only exit onto Vonderburg Dr. will also be created to improve egress and traffic flow.
Frequent library visitor, Jinifer Leichner, welcomed the county’s attention to the parking and traffic issues relating to the facility.
“I am glad to hear of the parking lot project,” Leichner said. “I love the library, but the lack of parking and traffic problems has always been an issue and, I admit, sometimes a deterrent from a visit for me and my family.”
The two-story, 25,000 sq.-ft. facility opened at its present location on March 10, 1991. Today it is one of the original two regional libraries in the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System and is co-located with Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association, Inc. whose patrons’ will also benefit from the project.
“High quality service for citizens is our top priority and this project will greatly improve patrons’ experience at this facility,” said Mike Merrill, Hillsborough County Administrator. “Access will be changing as this 30-45 day project progresses, so we’re asking for the community’s patience while we work to make these enhancements.”
The construction with the final completion scheduled for February 15, 2013, but officials promise that regular hours of operation will remain and while access to drive-up book drops will be limited, walk-up access will be available at all times.
Some parking spaces at the front of the building will at times also be restricted for safety, as a temporary two lane entry drive will be installed for use.
The temporary drive will be right turn only with no left turns into or out of the parking lot from Vonderburg Dr.
Additional public parking for library users is available in the unpaved lot in Clayton Park, adjacent to the ball field at the end of Bowing Oak Dr., and visitors are urged not to park in the lots of neighboring businesses, who may enforce towing policies.
The project has been designed and engineered by LaRosa Civil Design Inc., and will be constructed at a cost of $69,715 by Walbridge Aldinger Company.
The project is part of the County’s Repair, Replacement, Renovation and Maintenance (R3M) Program, which is generally funded through ad valorem taxes.
Funding for this particular R3M project comes from the library district tax,” Hall said.
For project questions or additional information, visit http://bit.ly/BRDlot or call 635-5400.
Additional assistance with library services is available at hcplc.org or by calling 273-3652.