New Clayton library finally to be built, questions arise about streetscape

Construction is set to begin on a new, bigger public library in Clayton. The Clayton City Council Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a conditional use permit for the new, state-of-the-art building.

The Central Library is No. 17 out of 19 renovations or rebuilds to be completed throughout St. Louis County, funded by the passage of Prop L in 2012.

“It’s a modern library, it will have a larger children room, a commons area with vending and high-top tables, comfortable seating, a community meeting room, a computer lab, public computers, an adult collection that is fantastic, and a quiet room where people can go if they want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the library,” said Kristen Sorth, St. Louis Co. Library District Director.

Mayor Harold Sanger praised the library for its diligence in pushing forward to get the project started, but said, “You know I have to ask, what about streetscaping.”

A city ordinance requires certain aesthetic standards, but the library staff says they are $500,000 short of installing pavers, street lights, and an irrigation system.

Christner Architects, heading up plans for the $8.5 million project, pointed out to the council that they were working to keep existing trees in place (including a Bradford pear, and incorporate Missouri native species into the design.

In addition to wondering why anyone would want to keep a Bradford pear tree, “I have a hard time believing that’s half a million,” Mayor Sanger said, referring to pavers, lighting, and irrigation.

Sorth assured him that fundraising was in place to try cover streetscaping costs.

“Our plans are to do as much as we can,” she said.

Sanger responded that he wants to see that every effort is being made to comply with the city ordinance.

“It’s a city requirement, they have their streetscape standards, we are not able to meet all of them, and they brought that up tonight,” Sorth told The Clayton Times after the meeting. “We have our own taxing district and jurisdiction, but we want to meet the standards as best we can.”

Sorth told the council construction is set to begin in November, and will hopefully be completed a year later.

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