County supervisors have pushed back plans for a first-of-its-kind science-oriented public library to make room in the county’s budget for more transportation projects.
The county’s budget includes funding for a science, technology, engineering and math or STEM library, which would include a STEM-focused collection, meeting rooms, state-of-the-art technology and equipment, and a 500-seat auditorium. Funding for the $47.4 million project was planned to begin in fiscal year 2021, which begins July 2020. But supervisors say they didn’t know much about the project, and that it won’t be ready by then.
“I think we need to understand better what the project is, what exactly is the vision,” said finance committee Chairman Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “And the board, I think, really needs to buy into it and make a decision as to whether we really want to invest the money into it.”
Loudoun Public Library Board of Trustees Chairman Mark Miller said the county’s libraries are “essentially the same,” varying only in size. He suggested the STEM library could change that, collocating at the Academies of Loudoun campus near Leesburg.
“It’s more a science-technology research library, and the vision is framed in the sense that we’re trying to expand the educational reach and spectrum of what the libraries offer, and to one day add the humanities portion on the other end of that spectrum,” Miller said.
Instead, supervisors asked the county budget staff to push plans for that library further in the future and develop options for how that $47.4 million could be used to advance transportation projects, such as sidewalk connections to Metro stations, or plans for a roundabout at Rt. 50 and Trailhead Drive.
Supervisors on the finance committee will hear the results of that work March 12, when they plan to recommend an updated version of the county’s Capital Improvement Program to the full Board of Supervisors.