Plans underway for state-of-art Westfield Washington Public Library


Westfield’s ever-growing population meant the Westfield Washington Public Library needed more space to fill the residents’ needs.

The WWPL moved into its present location at 333 W. Hoover St. in 1993. It was expanded for the first time in 1994.

Westfield’s population was 3,500 in 1990. By the second expansion in 2014, Westfield population had grown to 35,000. Sollars said the last population count was nearly 44,000.

“That’s why after 38 years, the library is looking to rebuild,” Sollars said. “Not expand but build from the ground up for a library that will better meet those needs.”

The library had hired KRM architects to conduct a feasibility study in 2019. WWPL director Sheryl Sollars explained to the Westfield Chamber of Commerce audience April 15 at the Club at Chatham Hills in Westfield that the study showed building a new facility on a new site would be the most cost-effective option.

The site is at downtown at Westfield Boulevard and Park Street

“The purchase of land and the building of a new building. It sounds expensive, right?” Sollars said. “It is, but we think we can get it done without any significant impact on your property taxes. We will continue to work with our partners at Westfield Washington Schools, the Westfield Washington Trustees Office, the City of Westfield and this project will most likely be tax neutral.”

The library’s construction and land cost will be $16.7 million. A general obligation bond is scheduled to go before the city council later this year. That will cause a 2-cent increase in the library tax rate but Westfield Washington Schools is projected to continue to decrease its tax rate over the next several years. Sollars said that will allow the new library project to be net neutral for the total tax rate.

“Those with property tax caps will see no increase in their property tax bill and we would have a state-of-the-art library that would meet the needs of the community,” she said.

The groundbreaking will be as soon as the spring of 2022 with completion planned for the fall of 2023.

Sollars said there will be a series of public meetings in the coming weeks to provide more information on the new project.

Sollars said a previous public survey indicated a desire for a new, innovative library. Solars said about half indicated they use other libraries in Hamilton County, and 35 percent responding said they use Carmel Clay Public Library to meet their needs.

The issues with the location now are a lack of parking, insufficient study rooms and need for more programing space. Residents would like to see remote working space, a coffee shop, a courtyard for outside activities and drive-thru services.

The Westfield Library Foundation’s mission is to raise private donations and pursuing grants to sustain the library for generations, Sollars said.

Mike Thomas, Westfield Library Foundation president, said the library has great programs for entire population.

“Many people think our library programs are geared toward children, while we have amazing programs geared toward children, we have programs for teens, adults and seniors, too,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the library delivers books to all of the assisted living facilities in Westfield every two weeks. The library also provides free WiFi to the community and free tutoring for the Westfield Youth Assistance Program.

Thomas said WWPL has the lowest tax rate and lowest operating budget among libraries in Hamilton and Boone counties.

The foundation is focused on five key areas: piloting library programs, ensuring robust collections, improving library environments, fueling library innovation and building an endowment for the future.

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