TAKOMA PARK, MD – Facing pressure over budget concerns from long-time residents, the city council decided to scrap the library expansion project and instead replace the entire site with a new mosaic-covered parking lot.
“The people of Takoma Park have spoken and it’s clear they want two things: to address the climate emergency and have enough parking to enable lots of driving,” said the Mayor. “We can also save the city a lot of future costs by not having a public library at all, and simply letting the private market of Little Free Libraries provide those services. It’s a win-win.”
To preserve both the character of the former library and the tradition of spending as much money as possible on a simple project, the parking lot will be completely covered with mosaic tiles matching the south facing wall of the existing building. To include the community in the process, the city plans to hold an open-ended competition for the design of the mosaic to be constructed.
“I think it’s important that we use this moment to really capture the essence of Takoma Park by putting way too much emphasis on a parking lot,” said local artist and historian Betty Friedman. “It needs to say, ‘We care about the environment more than anyone else,’ but also, ‘We refuse to give up the convenience of free parking for short trips around town that could have been easily accomplished by walking, biking or taking public transit.’”
The library expansion was projected to cost $9.8 million and would have doubled the current square footage of the building. In comparison, the new mosaic parking lot will cost only $9.7 million dollars, with the $100,000 savings going into a designated city fund to fight low income housing projects that might take away other parking spaces.
“We don’t want to repeat the mistake of fighting a losing battle to protect an ugly parking lot from development ever again,” said Friedman. “That’s why we’re going to get it right this time by creating a parking lot that is so beautiful, nobody will ever want to build on it.”