By Jimmy Fisher
PITTSTON — The new additions to the Pittston Memorial Library are nearly complete.
The library closed its doors on Thursday, July 9 as final work is completed on the new children’s wing, named the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center, and the community room, known as the John P. Cosgrove Center.
Both wings are named after those who donated money to help pay for the respective additions.
The children’s wing will be a significant upgrade, providing more space for activities as well as books and toys, but library director Anne Hogya said there are more surprises on the way.
“Not this construction season, but next construction season, it’s slated to have a playground put in and an amphitheater,” she said. “The city is already working on the grants for that.”
Connected to the new wing is a small classroom with chalkboards built into the walls which will serve as an activity room for groups such as Lego Club or teen-related activities like the Teen Reading Lounge.
Hogya said the children’s wing will also feature plenty of DVDs available for rent as well as a frog computer table.
“It’s set up and designed to look like a lily pad with a frog in the middle of it,” said Hogya. “It’s very cool.”
Through a small hallway and past new restrooms is the new community wing, as Hogya likes to call it, which can be rented by outside parties for events such as small gatherings and meetings.
“We have a screen already built in and we’re waiting on installing a Smartboard, so it will have full business capability,” said Hogya.
The process for installing the new additions dates back to 2011, not long after Hogya took over as director.
“I got here in 2010 and six months after I started, the idea started,” said Hogya. “We went to work to try to find the money with grants and supporters and the design. We were held up along the way because of the land swap with the city and the lands that touched the property line.”
The land swap included the library acquiring property from A.S. Powers Sons Inc. a few years back.
Money for the library’s new additions included a $400,000 donation from the Weinberg Foundation, $500,000 from a gaming grant and $10,000 in grants from various other foundations.
After the design for the new spaces were drawn up by architects from Ballina Design Group P.C., of Dunmore, Berger Construction, of Freeland, began work in November 2014. The process was slowed by the harsh winter, but everything is back on track.
Because of the new additions, the library will see increased utility and maintenance costs, but will receive the help of endowment funds to help pay for those necessities.
“An endowment fund is an investment fund where you get a distribution every year of a certain percentage of money,” said Hogya. “It just grows overtime and it’s a funding source for the library.”
Barbara Quinn, president of the library board of trustees, is excited about the new additions and believes the public will be pleased with the completed project.
“I think everyone will love especially the expanded children’s wing,” Quinn said. “We always had that little room out in the main library and it was small, so they’re going to be thrilled. I think it will be a great addition to the community.”
The library will remain closed until Monday, July 20 when the interior is expected to be complete. The Pittston Memorial Library will hold a special grand opening on Saturday, Aug. 15 to celebrate the new additions.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher