STEVENSVILLE — The first public meeting was held Thursday, Nov. 2, to gather opinions on what should go into the proposed renovation and expansion of the Kent Island branch of the Queen Anne’s County Free Library, located in Stevensville. Some 30 people attended.

Queen Anne’s County Library Director John Walden welcomed those residents who came. He turned the meeting over architect Rob Manns of MW (Manns-Woodward) Studios Architecture Master Planning, of White Marsh in Baltimore County, to explain how the planning session would run.

Manns said MW Studios has been part of 12 different Maryland libraries renovations and expansions over the past six years, so the firm has quite a large amount of experience redesigning libraries, depending on what the public wants done in each different county’s setting.

Manns took questions from those in attendance before the audience broke into small discussion groups to express their ideas for what the new KI Library should offer.

One of those asking questions was Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Mark Anderson, the only commissioner who voted against awarding the project to MW Studios for the pro bono bid.

“Being a details guy – that’s the way I am. I need to know what’s being done for the county is correct before I support it. Understanding that probono means for free, how far does ‘for free, mean’ with your company?” Anderson asked. “At some point you’re going to have to charge something for your services.”

Manns replied, “All of the fact-finding, meaning what the public wants in their expanded library, to help us determine the design of the expansion and renovation is pro bono, including any changes that may later be made to the initial designs.”

Anderson seemed satisfied with his answer. “Depending on the price of your bid with the final product,” he said, “you may find that all five commissioners may vote for your company next time.”

The county has received matching funds from the state to help with costs of the project. Those attending the planning session Nov. 2 were asked to fill out a survey specifically listing what they saw as needs for the renovated library.

One common theme among those who discussed it was flexibility of the new building, allowing for changes in community needs over the years after the new facility is finally built. The expansion/renovation will take place on the existing property.

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