The town of Carolina Beach is looking to convert the its old library building into a place for community meetings as well as a new headquarters for the Federal Point Help Center.
The 1,500-square-foot building located at 300 Cape Fear Blvd., which is owned by the town, has been vacant since the Pleasure Island branch of the New Hanover County Library moved to a new location at 1401 N. Lake Park Blvd. last November. Since then, the town has been discussing ways to utilize the old space.
“One of the options … was to go and develop the old library as a community center and basically have places for meetings,” said Town Manager Michael Cramer, saying he and his staff have been looking at what it would cost to upgrade the interior of the building to suit those needs.
After talking to groups that use the existing smaller community center, located at the corner of Raleigh Avenue and 3rd Street, for meetings, Cramer said he was able to determine a need they have.
“All of them tend to have and use that meeting space for smaller groups of 25 people or so, not large groups,” said Cramer. “We believe it would be better served if we split this into two areas where you could have multiple meetings at one time and a common area down the middle and in the back for refreshments or things of that nature.”
Cramer said that while the structure of the building would not be changed, a new layout would require several new walls and doors, along with ceiling repairs. The interior would also receive a fresh coat of paint. Estimates for the upgrades range from $8,000 to $14,000.
“The $8,000 quote that we have is quite attractive to us,” said Cramer. “We have talked to the contractor about different things that we could do internally to continue to break down those costs.”
The renovating of the old library building for meeting space would open up the community center to be repurposed. Cramer said the Federal Point Help Center, which provides emergency and short-term assistance for Pleasure Island residents in the form of a food pantry and helping with things like utility and medical bills, has shown interest in moving into that space. Currently their office is located in the town’s parks and recreation department.
“It’s not exactly conducive to having private conversations about income and need with their clients, but it does do a good job of storing materials that they give out,” Cramer said of the 576-square-foot space the Help Center currently has. “They have talked to us on a couple of different occasions and have come up with a plan that meets their needs and utilizes that facility more fully.”
The bigger space (756 square feet at the current community center) would allow the Help Center to have a couple of waiting rooms for clients as well as private bathrooms and a kitchenette area for employees. Cramer said the Help Center is planning to go before town council in the near future to request $4,000 from the fund set for non-profits to help with changes to the building.
The space they would be vacating in the town’s rec center would then be turned into a teen lounge, which Cramer said has been located in several different rooms in the building and does not have a permanent home.
“At this point we have two plans that would facilitate additional meeting rooms, would help the Help Center in being able to provide their services, would help the parks and rec department in providing additional services there,” said Cramer, noting the total cost for all the renovations would be around $12,000.
The project will be added into the town’s budget process for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, which is currently being put together. Town council will vote on the budget within the next couple of months, and it will go into effect on July 1.