The Wissahickon Valley Chronicles:
Ambler Branch Library
Proposed Renovation and Expansion
January 29, 2018
Ambler has had a library providing services to the people of the community since 1923. The existing library building opened at 209 Race Street to serve residents of the area on September 11, 1961. Unfortunately, a segment of the population has not been able to avail themselves of all of the library services within Ambler Borough itself.
Individuals in wheelchairs, for example, have been unable to easily enter the library building in Ambler. Navigating the aisles has been difficult. The public restrooms were not designed for use by people in wheelchairs.
Leaders in the community hope to change that situation.
A $1.7 million renovation and expansion project is being proposed for the Ambler Branch Library of the Wissahickon Valley Public Library.
“I'm so excited to be working towards the renovation of the Ambler Branch for accessibility and educational programming,” stated Ms. Anne Frank, Library Director of the Wissahickon Valley Public Library. “When we began the strategic planning process in 2014, the lack of accessibility of the Ambler Branch rose up as a very important need. We completed the strategic planning process in 2015, for the years 2016-2019.”
The Wissahickon Valley Public Library has been working behind-the-scenes since then to raise the needed monies to fund a feasibility study.
“We thank the VNA Foundation of Greater North Penn, Ambler Borough and those who donated towards the feasibility study,” explained Ms. Frank.
The proposed renovations and expansion of the Ambler Branch Library will include the addition of a ramp, accessible restrooms, and an education programming space within the building.
“We are currently seeking the necessary variances to start the design process,” explained Ms. Frank.
The request for variances will be discussed during a meeting of the Ambler Borough Zoning Hearing Board is scheduled for 7:00 PM on February 1, 2018. The hearing will be held at the Ambler Borough Hall at 131 Rosemary Avenue.
Specifically, the Wissahickon Valley Public Library is asking for permission to relocate the main entrance of the branch library. The non-profit organization is also asking for the Borough to explicitly allow the library to exist within the Downtown Commercial District zoning classification that includes much of Downtown Ambler. Evidently, even though the library has been in place for years, a library use is not specifically allowed right now within its current zoning classification. A variance is also being requested regarding the current parking lot.
If the variances are approved, the Wissahickon Valley Public Library intends to begin the design phase for this community project.
This is the existing Children’s Area within the Ambler Branch Library.
“We have already secured another grant from the VNA Foundation of Greater North Penn and donations for the first phase of the design process,” explained Ms. Frank. “We plan to apply for a Keystone Grant and a Community Development Block grant once they open in March and are beginning to plan the capital campaign.”
As noted, one of the strong supporters of providing accessibility for people to use the library in Ambler has been the VNA Foundation of Greater North Penn. The foundation was created when the North Penn Visiting Nurse Association merged into Abington Health in 2013.
“Having an active and accessible library as a local resource to those in Ambler is a priority goal for this project,” stated Ms. Joanne O. Kline, Executive Director of the foundation. “This will provide an enhanced resource for all residents to enjoy. The VNA Foundation is working with the Wissahickon Valley Public Library to ensure that new plans will build the capacity for this Ambler branch and its programs to serve as a vibrant local resource for Ambler residents in the years to come.”
This image reflects the proposed elevation of the new addition to the Ambler Public Library.
The Wissahickon Valley Public Library has developed a document to make its case for the public to support the renovation and expansion of the Ambler Branch Library. You can read this document in Part Two by clicking here.
“The library will be seeking community input through Community Conversations in Ambler,” stated Ms. Frank. “Please watch out for those and come share you thoughts with us! We so look forward to building the capacity of the Ambler Branch to serve all our residents.”
The photos and image are courtesy of the Wissahickon Valley Public Library.
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