Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The new Waltha T. Daniels-Shaw Library continues to sputter through redesign after redesign in attempts to cut costs while remaining on schedule. After scrapping their first plans and start date (due to interference with a nearby Metro line and an overabundance of ground water), citizens were not pleased when their new and improved branch did not open in 2006. A full two years later, local blogs and librarians alike went ballistic this July when the District unveiled its' second round of tweaked concept art that looked mysteriously like...the old Waltha T. Daniels-Shaw Library. You know, the concrete box that they had paid to demolish.
Given that that same month, Mayor Fenty timidly announced the District was considering keeping all libraries closed on Friday through Sunday due to budgetary constraints, most were ready to assume that any plans for a new Shaw library were going to come to dead stop or, at the very least, be drastically curtailed. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, however, when the mayor did a 180 and announced on August 4th that the city had re-appropriated $2 million in order to keep the city’s libraries up-and-running and (gasp) open seven days a week. Of course, that didn’t stop city spokespeople from opining about “rising material and transportation costs” in the same breath as “Shaw” and “library.”
On August 16th, residents led by the Shaw Library Study Group came together to voice their disapproval with the two year delay at a “Speak Out and Read In” in front of a neighborhood Giant supermarket. Now comes word that yet another set of designs and schematics (and compromises?) will be unveiled on Thursday, September 4th at the interim library currently serving Shaw - the fourth such “community design meeting” to take place since last year.
The DC public library homepage claims that the constant back and forth on the design and funding issues has delayed their current timetable by only 6 to 8 weeks and that construction is still planned to begin this coming fall with a planned completion date somewhere in early 2010. Here’s to hoping that this doesn’t become yet another neglected Ward 2 landmark (we're looking at you, Howard Theater and Wonder Bread factory) that fails to get the treatment it deserves.