Vinton and Roanoke County deliver the library the public requested

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VINTON–The new Vinton Public Library is now open for business. A huge crowd of dignitaries, town and county employees, builders, and just regular citizens turned out for the ribbon-cutting event on November 18.

The new Vinton Library was officially dedicated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 18.
The new Vinton Library was officially dedicated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 18.

Many of those citizens had a part in the construction of the library because they contributed their ideas and opinions in public meetings when the library was in the design stages. They asked for a building modern in appearance that would be light and airy and open. That’s what they got.

They asked for spaces dedicated to children and teens–those two groups occupy about half of the first floor space.

This is definitely "not your father's library." Teens say the new library, especially the new Teen Center, is "awesome."
This is definitely “not your father’s library.” Teens say the new library, especially the new Teen Center, is “awesome.”

The public asked for more computers and lots more parking. They now have triple the number of computers (42) and parking spaces (about 84) than they did at the old library on Washington Avenue.

They requested meeting rooms–small and large–and amenities for small businesses. They got even more than requested with a “Makerspace” with access to “emerging technologies.”

They asked for a coffee shop, a large video screen outdoors for movies, a drive-through drop-off and pick-up window. It’s all there.

Plus the library is handicapped accessible, as required, with an outdoor ramp to the mezzanine level and an elevator within. It is also highly secure with only two entrances and a monitoring system makes all parts of the library visible to the staff at the circulation desk.

And there are artistic touches the general public didn’t envision, with a grand staircase up to the mezzanine level which overlooks the lower floor, unique lighting fixtures, and whimsical furniture and upholstery.

There are Lego tables, computers, and cubbies built into the shelves in the children’s area. The teens have large video screens for watching movies and playing games. But they also have tables for playing old-fashioned card and board games.

About two hundred guests attended the opening and hundreds more have visited the library for self-guided tours in the days since. The teens have kept their space occupied with several special events dedicated to them and most have one word for their new digs—“awesome.”

During the ceremony Board of Supervisors Chairman Jason Peters said, “Vinton residents were not shy about what they wanted. We are delivering on our promises to Vinton.” He expressed his appreciation to the prior Board of Supervisors and to Vinton Town Council for their vision which got the project started and kept it moving along.

A plaque at the new Vinton Library recognizes those who shared the vision of a downtown library and worked diligently to make it a reality, including Mayor Brad Grose, council members Wes Nance, Carolyn Fidler, Matt Hare, Bobby Atice, and Town Manager Chris Lawrence.
A plaque at the new Vinton Library recognizes those who shared the vision of a downtown library and worked diligently to make it a reality, including Mayor Brad Grose, council members Wes Nance, Carolyn Fidler, Matt Hare, Bobby Atice, and Town Manager Chris Lawrence.

Peters told the crowd that he was born in Vinton, lives in Vinton, is raising his children here, and sees the new library as a gateway to Vinton and critical to its economic growth.

Assistant Roanoke County Administrator Richard Caywood, who took the lead on the project, thanked former Board chairman Mike Altizer for helping him to envision what the library could be when it was still an abstraction in the spring of 2013. Altizer described the stunning view of the mountains that would be available if the building were placed farther back on the lot with a second level. He said that Altizer’s vision “drove the design for the project.”

 

Mike Altizer, former Chairman of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, was a driving force behind the new library being located in downtown Vinton.
Mike Altizer, former Chairman of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, was a driving force behind the new library being located in downtown Vinton.

Ground was broken on the project in December 2013 with the demolition of the Dunman Floral building. Construction was underway in April 2014.

Caywood also thanked Peter Bolek and Jamie Shook from HBM Architects who designed the building, guided by the public input, and their site supervisor and “man in the field during construction,” Stephen Doyle .

Caywood remarked that general contractor Avis Construction was “extraordinarily professional to work with and impressed everyone with the quality of the work they delivered.” He went on to express the county’s appreciation to OWPR who did the engineering and site work and David Hill, president of Hill Studio, who completed the landscaping work and will oversee the green roof.

He praised members of the county staff including project manager Rob Light, Vinton Library Branch Manager Sarah Vaughan, and Rick Gardner, head of the IT department.

Mayor Brad Grose thanked the Peters and Dunman families and realtor Galen Connor who made the purchase of the property feasible by a town and county partnership. Dorothy Peters was on hand for the ceremony.

Dorothy Peters of the Peters family who, along with the Dunmans and Galen Connor of Olde Colony Realty, made the property available for the construction of the new library, attended the dedication with Nancy Collins of the Salem Library.
Dorothy Peters (on left) of the Peters family who, along with the Dunmans and Galen Conner of Olde Colony Realty, made the property available for the construction of the new library, attended the dedication with Nancy Collins of the Salem Library.

The mayor commended former Roanoke County Administrator Clay Goodman and Diana Rosapepe, Director of the Roanoke County Library system.

Current County Administrator Tom Gates described Rosapepe as the “heart and soul” of the library system, who started her career as the branch manager at the Hollins library and now supervises the circulation of 1.5 million items each year among the six county libraries. Vinton is the third new library to open in four years under her guiding hand.

Gates also thanked the Friends of the Library organization, a “non-profit partner” who work mainly behind the scenes adding the extras in each library, such as the two streetlights they purchased in Vinton to match the ones installed during the downtown revitalization project.

The dedication ceremony and ribbon-cutting which followed were attended by an exuberant crowd who filled two tents in the library parking lot. There were no detractors apparent on opening day. Most expressed amazement at the state-of-the-art building which had been completed in such a timely fashion with passersby able to continually watch the progress over two years from demolition to opening.

The Winds of the Blue Ridge serenaded those who poured into the library for the tours they have anticipated for months. Brenda Johnson of Teaberry’s provided a buffet while movies played throughout the building and on the roof.

As the mayor said, it was truly a great day for and “In Vinton.”