Money is short, and time is running out.
We need your help – NOW – to speak up for our library.
(Updated Jan. 6, 2021)
Major decisions over the next month will likely decide the location and scale of University City’s next library.
The current facility at 301 E. WT Harris Blvd. must soon relocate because the library’s lease is expiring. The two groups that will decide the library’s future – the leadership of Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries and the Mecklenburg County Board – need to hear loud and clear from our community that we want the future University City Regional Library to have the building it needs at the best location to serve University City and all of Charlotte.
SEE BELOW FOR HOW TO CONTACT OUR COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
An exciting opportunity for University City’s future
Developer EB Arrow’s announcement in July 2019 that it would help transform University Place by including a 40,000-square-foot library building in its Waters Edge project seemed like the perfect solution.
This new home (just to the left of the main office building in this image) could follow in the footsteps of the South County Regional Library, now being renovated and expanded to 39,000 square feet.
Leveraging the $1.1 billion LYNX investment
University City Partners believes that having a library facility that’s nearly twice the size of the current one, equipping it with the latest technology and programming, and locating it in a dynamic urban center within a short walk of the LYNX light-rail line, will meet the library system’s stated goal of establishing libraries as the 21st Century “public commons” for their communities.
A vital tool for learning and jobs
Libraries are an investment in people and for people. Libraries provide strong programming to help kids succeed in school, improving potential for economic mobility. Our libraries also provide access to technology to connect people to jobs.
The planned facility at University Place will provide the greatest accessibility via LYNX and visibility to benefit many more youth and job seekers, aiding in meeting economic-mobility goals, many of which are tied to third-grade reading levels.
18 months of negotiations and no agreement
It has been 18 months since EB Arrow presented its plan for a lakeside library in its Waters Edge development.
The biggest hurdle: Finding the money
Virtually all capital improvement funds available for fiscal years 2019-2023 for new library facilities and renovations countywide – about $106 million – have been committed to replacing the Main Library in uptown Charlotte and to renovating adjacent Spirit Square. As a result, money for our library’s new facility must come from elsewhere in Mecklenburg County’s $1.9 billion budget.
We must convince our elected officials and decision makers that, like the Uptown Library, locating the University City Regional Library on the LYNX line and in our town center is the best investment for people, our community and our county.
Focus on cutting costs rather than building the future
Negotiations for the University City library have focused on ways to cut costs for a University Place/lakefront facility. Proposals include cutting the building size or moving the library to a more remote site already owned by the county. That move would keep our future library from benefiting from one of the single largest public investments ever made in North Carolina – the LYNX light-rail line.
Thousands of new apartment homes are rising within walking distance of the LYNX stations along North Tryon Street, even as the county and library board consider moving the library to a site totally separate from mass transit.
The next month may be decisive
Time is running out to secure an amazing home for our future library.
- The developer has delayed the launch of his Waters Edge project since last spring to find a winning solution for all and has said he must break ground soon, with or without a library building.
- The owner of the property where our current library sits, Atrium Health, has said it has plans for that property but will delay their plans to provide a lease extension – if the county and library board have a firm plan and timetable for moving the library to a new home.
- The library board is expected to present a plan for our branch to the County Board in the next 1-2 weeks. The county, in turn, will likely decide in January how to proceed.
Two ways you can tell commissioners what you want
If you support our efforts to relocate University City Regional Library to University Place, here are two ways you can help.
- Write our leaders now – Contact our County Commissioners, County Manager Dena Diorio and Assistant County Manager Leslie Johnson, who oversees the public libraries. Tell them that you value University City Regional Library and you support your tax dollars being invested in the larger library as part of the planned urban center at University Place. Names and email addresses are below. If you wish to write all of these people with one email, we have also created a cluster of their emails that you can paste into your email letter.
- Take the county-budget planning survey – The county invites us to complete an online survey of priorities for the next budget. Use the budget to demand a new library at University Place. TAKE THE SURVEY
There’s still time to make the difference. Let’s do it!
The future of the library is still to be determined. Let’s get the library now that will serve us well for generations to come.
Executive Director, University City Partners
County leadership and their emails
- County Manager Dena Dioria – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Assistant County Manager Leslie Johnson – Leslie.Johnson@mecklenburgcountync.gov
Board of County Commissioners
(The new board was sworn in on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020)
- Chair, George Dunlap, District 3 – email@example.com
- Vice Chair, Elaine Powell, District 1 – firstname.lastname@example.org
At Large commissioners
- Leigh Altman – email@example.com
- Pat Cotham, At-Large – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ella B. Scarborough, At-Large – email@example.com
- Vilma D. Leake, District 2 – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mark Jerrell, District 4 – email@example.com
- Laura J. Meier, District 5 – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Susan Rodriguez-McDowell, District 6 – email@example.com
For a group email to County Commissioners
Paste this entire block into your email window for addresses to send a single message to each commissioner.
George.Dunlap@mecklenburgcountync.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, Vilma.Leake@mecklenburgcountync.gov, Mark.Jerrell@mecklenburgcountync.gov, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com