Beaches library to add green space

The Friends of the Beaches Branch Library (FOBBL) board has developed final designs for the Beaches Branch Library Landscape and Ground Improvements project.

To cover project costs, the FOBBL raised $25,000 in donations as well as built a partnership with the city of Jacksonville. FOBBL President Josh Messinger said he is happy to report that the renovations are on track for groundbreaking this month. 

The project designs call for the reduction of significant amounts of concrete, which will be replaced with eco-friendly, planted green space. 

Part of this realignment and expansion of green space involves the removal of the sycamore trees located off Third Street and in the parking lot.  This removal is part of a long-deferred maintenance project by the city of Jacksonville. That work originated due to structural damage caused by the trees’ root system to the Library foundation and parking lot. The FOBBL plan has accounted for this and is replacing those lost hardwood inches with native hardwood Elms, East Palatka Hollys and Cathedral Live Oaks, throughout the new design. 

The eco-friendly theme is followed up by the installation of a high-efficiency irrigation system to reduce water consumption. And energy-efficient LED lighting will illuminate the building façade, replacing the old lampposts that are being removed. In addition, new bike racks will also be installed along with two handicap spaces.

According to the Friends, the Library beautification project is a community effort, and like any large project it did not come without its hurdles. 

At the project outset, Rockaway Garden Center, located in Jacksonville Beach, provided the designs and plans. Since November 2015, Rockaway and its designer Larry Ritter provided audit and design service to the FOBBL, creating a new, sustainable and green vision for the Library.

With the plan in hand, the next task was finding help to navigate city procedures and getting aid to ensure the new library grounds would be maintained. 

Friends members credited Elaine Brown for setting up meetings with Jacksonville Councilman Bill Gulliford. The county has committed to a separate long-term, full-service grounds maintenance contract for the Beaches Branch Library.