Cranberry Library director Leslie Pallotta can picture it: Patrons with books in their laps, sitting on a bench or at a cafe table on a patio rimmed by a garden outside the library's glass doors.
It's a vision that will take shape soon, courtesy of a coveted state grant that she had hoped for but had doubted she would receive.
"I knew it was a good project -- a really good project. But, I had my doubts that we'd get it," she said of the $230,183 Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund. She was notified of the award last month.
The money calls for matching funds, which will be covered by the township.
The "reading garden" will be one facet of a project that calls for converting a large meeting room in the library into three or four smaller tutoring rooms. The large meeting room will be replaced when the library bumps out its interior walls into what currently is the township's preschool. The preschool will shift down the hall of the municipal center into what was formerly the police station. The municipal center is on Rochester Road.
Ms. Pallotta said the project will answer an important need for smaller, private spaces to allow for the tutoring work that is based at the facility. But, she's most excited about the reading garden.
"We talk about the concept of the library outside the library. This is a literal interpretation of that," she said. "To be able to create a casual, relaxing space where (patrons) can use our facilities is something we can do right now."
Specific plans will be prepared in April with an anticipated construction start in the fall. She expects the work to be finished by summer 2014. Meantime, the preschool is expected to be shifted before fall classes begin in September.
Ms. Pallotta said she viewed the grant application to the state as "a top-notch proposal" but was concerned that, given the competitive nature of the process, Cranberry might not be successful in its bid for funding. "I think we had a great project, a little luck and a lot of hard work," she said.
Karen Kane: email@example.com or 724-772-9180.