The proposed new library would be triple the size of the current library. Photo by Jim Headley

Tuesday evening, citizens of Maricopa were allowed a first look at the city’s new library plan.[pull_quote_right]”Our existing residents won’t pay a dime; they have paid enough.” – Ricky Horst, city manager[/pull_quote_right]

Architects, city officials and staff gathered in the city council chambers to unveil conceptual drawings of the new library that is three-and-a-half times as large as the present library.

The crowd attending the informal affair was large and very interested in the project.

The proposed library will be 27,000 square feet in size but could also be expanded in the future. The goal is the new library could be 40,000 to 45,000 square feet after the second phase of construction is completed.

Tuesday evening the drawings presented to the public were simply a representation of what a new library could look like. Final design work is still being completed.

City manager Rick Horst said the goal is to start construction of the new library by January 2020 and complete the building by the end of the year. The plan is to convert the present library into a senior center as well as a veterans center and public meeting space.

The present veterans center would then be converted into a museum for the Maricopa Historical Society.

Horst was on hand Tuesday night showing citizens what will become of the current library.

“We are loosely trying to show how we are going to have some dedicated space for our seniors,” Horst said, “dedicated space for our veterans and, in this space in the middle, they will be able to free-flow into the area when they need it. It is extra room for events or dinners. Otherwise, this will be a community space where we can have an art show, an art gallery and music. This center section will seat about 350 people.”

Photo by Jim Headley

Horst said redesigning the present library into a community facility will also free up the veterans center for the historical society.

“We are checking a lot of boxes with what we’re doing tonight,” he said, adding he’s told the seniors that the city would find a smart solution for a senior center, and this is it.

[pull_quote_left]“It is very impressive. It will be great for the community.” — Miki Juarez, new resident[/pull_quote_left]Horst said the construction of the proposed library at the city center complex will be an opportunity to create another iconic building for the city, one as important as city hall.

“It re-establishes what the new library is all about,” Horst said. “It’s not just about stacks of books. It’s about people, innovation, opportunity and creativity… We will be able to meet our needs for years to come.”

The proposed library is expected to cost about $8.5 million but no taxes will be increased to pay for it.

“The good news is, we’re not going to have to borrow money, and there will be no debt,” Horst said, adding the city has the money in the bank. “We are just being prudent about how we’re spending money. Our developers will pay some of it through impact fees coming from new development. Our existing residents won’t pay a dime; they have paid enough.”

One person pushing for the new library has been Mayor Christian Price.

“I am very excited about the potential of a new library here in the City of Maricopa,” Price said. “I have lived here for 16 years. I have small children and we go to the library all the time. The old library was too small the day it was opened. We’re trying not to make that same mistake, but, at the same time, we’re trying to stay within our budget. This is a huge win for the City of Maricopa.”

Price said in city government you must wait for projects to align. He said everything has come together for the construction of the new city library.

“We were able to redo funds internally,” Price said. “We were able to gather monies that were coming in for library-type purposes. Now the stars have aligned, and we can jump. We have to strike when the iron is hot. We weren’t there last year. We weren’t there five years ago. I don’t know that we would be there six years from now, but we are there now. It is time to take that step.”

Photo by Jim Headley

Vice Mayor Henry Wade was on hand talking to citizens about the proposed library.

“I am happy about it – very much so,” Wade said. “We will have a lot of room that we need, and we will have other uses for it. Rooms where we can support the youth, support seniors and other organizations. I think it’s great. This is another one of those times where we can say we are proud of Maricopa. This will take us to another level.”

Kazi Haque, Maricopa’s assistant director of development services, has had his eye on the proposed new library for quite some time as one of the city’s top planning officials.

“I think this is a great move for the City of Maricopa,” Haque said. “I feel like this is something that people have been waiting for a long time. This is our first step of achieving that goal that has been identified in the Vision 2040 plan, and also in our general plan.”

Haque said in just 15 years, Maricopa has really come a long way. Haque joined the city staff in 2005.

“I am very happy and proud. I think the architect did a good job and it reflects some of the ideas and thoughts people in Maricopa wanted,” Haque said. “It’s not only a library but it is a multipurpose area for people to come and do a lot of things.”

Joan Koczor is a leading senior advocate in Maricopa and she was in attendance Tuesday evening to look at the new plans for the library and repurposing the present library for seniors.

“It is very reminiscent of the facility that’s in Florence. I understand they were the same architect,” said Koczor. “It will be a very nice option for the seniors to have a place, a more permanent place.”

Koczor said the new library location was originally supposed to be the Maricopa Cultural Center.

The proposed library was a hit for both new and longer-term Maricopa residents.

“I think it’s great,” said Joan Garrett, a member of Friends of the Library and Historical Society. “The fact that there is room to expand, which we have never been able to do before. We are growing.”

Even someone new to the community liked what they saw Tuesday night.

“It is very impressive. It will be great for the community,” said Miki Juarez, a new resident. “We just moved here from California. We just retired. We love this city and we’re very excited to see the new library.”

Photo by Jim Headley