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Library finds temporary home at strip mall

June 14, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The North Fort Myers Library will find a temporary home tucked away in the corner of a strip mall behind the old Buddy Freddy's on Pine Island Road.

There will be plenty of parking and the bus will stop there for at least the next 18 months as construction of a new library gets under way.

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners last week approved a lease agreement with ANPE, LLC for a temporary location for the library for three units on 50 Pine Island Road.

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The North Fort Myers Library will find a temporary home tucked away in the corner of a strip mall behind the old Buddy Freddy’s at 50 Pine Island Road.

"We knew we were going to have to find temporary space during construction. They're working on the buildout now, they're putting in temporary shelving and make it suitable," said Commissioner Brian Hamman.

The temporary location isn't going to be quite like the current facility, but it will have some of the basic services you would expect from a library.

"The location is on the same bus line. It's going to be small with basic services. But it will be there and people will be able to use the computers and get what theywant. It just might not be on the shelf today," said Linda Yorde, president of Friends of the North Fort Myers Library. "It will do the job for us."

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The lease term runs from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2018 and can be extended if necessary. The lease rate is $3,000 per month for the approximately 3,700-square-foot location.

The total estimated lease cost is $57,000 and will coincide with the construction period of the new library building.

The construction manager for the North Fort Myers library is DeAngelis Diamond and the new library is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019.

The temporary site will have 12 public computers, an area for holds and pick-ups and story times. Areas to browse will include new books, DVDs, and a selection of children's materials.

The temporary site will have 16,000 items in circulation and 26,000 in storage. The current number of items in an active status (on shelf, in-transit, or circulating) at North Fort Myers is around 44,000.

The current building will close and construction is expected to begin this fall. A more detailed schedule plus public notification will be out this summer. The building is expected to be torn down shortly after construction begins.

In 2015, County Commissioners approved the acquisition of property to make the new library possible. To continue services during construction, staff researched potential locations for a temporary library.

Pine Island Road was considered the best, as it is only a quarter-mile away from the current library, has the proper zoning and requires minimum build out, is at the low end of leasing rates, and has a bus stop in the area.

Yorde said it's yet another small step before they're able to finally move into a new library.

"It seems like it's taken a long time, but we're on our way. There's no going back," Yorde said.

"It's a big step, I believe. We'll make sure the temporary location will serve the needs of residents during construction. We're going to coordinate with the Book Mobile to see if they can stop by the recreation center to provide access to materials there," Hamman said. "In the end, the new library will serve the public better."



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