Area residents unimpressed by plans for Waverly Library

Melissa Smith, of Oakenshawe has waited since 2008 for Baltimore City to unveil its plans for renovating and expanding her local library.

But when the presentation was finally made Tuesday, Smith, president of the group Friends of the Waverly Library, was so underwhelmed she got angry.


"It's been four years," she said during a public meeting at the library with 30 residents of Waverly, Charles Village, Oakenshawe, Abell and Old Goucher in attendance. "There's a lot of things we want that we're not seeing here -things that we were promised.

"This is not the library we envisioned. Sorry."


City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke declared, "We need to go back to the drawing board."

But the plans will be presented to the city's Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel on Thursday.

Plans are only 30 percent complete at this point, cautioned Margaret Martin, chief of design and construction in the city's Department of General Services, who led the public meeting.

Stephanie Schaefer, of Buchart Horn Architects, the city's design architect for the project, told the audience she is limited by a $3 million budget for the project.

Clarke estimated it could take several million dollars more to add amenities that residents wanted. Those include a green roof, a sun porch along the west side of the library on Barclay Street at 33rd Street, and relocation of the front entrance from busy 33rd Street, where a traffic circle is proposed, to Barclay, a gateway into Oakenshawe.

Oakenshawe residents said they don't like looking at the building's concrete exterior on Barclay at 33rd.

The city has been planning the project since February 2008, when a charrette was held to gauge what residents want to see when the library built in 1971 is revamped.

A city report on the charrette is online at


Smith said the city promised residents then that a sun porch would be part of the plans. But Schaefer said she never heard about such a porch in the plans.

The current plans call for green space on the west side.

The plans also call for a handicapped-accessible ramp, more windows and a more energy-efficient building.

But residents said the windows should be part of the sun porch they want.

And when residents asked Schaefer to give examples of how her firm would increase energy efficiency, many were exasperated when she confessed, "We haven't gotten that far."

Clarke said current plans don't sound like much of an improvement for the building — "just with more windows in the wrong places."


Clarke told the Messenger afterwards, "They (planners) put in a potted plant and a handicapped ramp, and called it a new library."

The plans had a few supporters at the meeting.

Patricia Costello, the library system's chief of neighborhood services, said upgrading of the building as planned would make it "a nice, clean, bright, accessible place" with separate areas for teens and children.

Cedric Rudd, of Waverly, liked the plans.

"All that stuff is a good idea," he said. "The community will really like to see that."

But most in the audience said they are looking for more.


Sandy Sparks, of Charles Village, said the problem is that everyone is trying to "shoehorn" improvements into a library that isn't big enough.

"We need to look to figure out a way to get additional money, so we can get a bigger facility," Sparks said.

Martin said she and the architects now would "consider what you told us, and see what trade offs we can make."

Rudd had one last question.

"Does that mean it's going to take another four years?"