Eastern Avenue library project selected for $1.2 million grant
The Eastern Avenue branch of the Davenport Public Library is scheduled to be built north of 53rd Street off Eastern Avenue.

The Vision Iowa board awarded a $1.2 million grant Wednesday to help with the construction of a new, environmentally friendly library branch in north Davenport.

The unanimous decision by the board was a victory for city officials seeking state dollars through the Community Attraction and Tourism grant program for the $8.2 million project.

Davenport Library Director LaWanda Roudebush was overcome with emotion after the decision.

“We’ve worked so hard to try to get this done, and this is an important project for our community,” Roudebush said, thanking the board members.

Roudebush said they’ll be seeking bids for the project in May and could be under construction starting in July.

The soonest the library could open is spring 2010, likely in early June. It will be located north of 53rd Street off Eastern Avenue.

“We also have to build an entire collection for this building,” Roudebush said. “So that’s another challenge that we’ve got to get done very quickly.”

Roudebush has been encouraged with the pace of private fundraising for the new library, which has totaled more than $1.8 million so far.

She cited the donation from an 11-year-old girl who worked to earn the $30 she gave to the library cause. A faraway donation came from the United Kingdom.

“I think they see the value of libraries,” Roudebush said of the 400 donors who have pitched in so far.

“They want the children of our community to be good readers, and they know how important it is to start them when they’re young and get them involved and encouraged.”

Library supporters are still short of the $2 million goal they set for private fundraising. The state award is contingent on meeting that goal within 90 days.

“We definitely want the public’s help on this,” Roudebush said.

She stressed the importance of libraries as more than just a warehouse for books or materials.

“It’s a place for people to come and share their ideas and opinions, and we do that through our community rooms with all the different meetings that go on there from all kinds of different groups,” Roudebush said.

The library’s green elements, which include a geothermal system, day lighting and a rain garden that collects rooftop rain and channels it to natural wetlands, have helped with the fundraising drive.

“People are very concerned about impacting the environment, and this is the first real building that people are going to be able to use on an ongoing basis with those features in our area,” Roudebush said.

They hope the library is a demonstration of some of these green features, including permeable parking lot and bioswales that help manage stormwater.

Vision Iowa Board Chairman Andy Anderson praised the “forward-thinking” plans for the library and its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED-certified plans.

“We just think it’s a great project for the community,” Anderson said.

The library

What: Eastern Avenue branch of Davenport Public Library

Location: North of 53rd Street off Eastern Avenue

Size: 26,000 square feet, similar to Fairmount Street branch

Cost: $8.2 million, with $125,000 left to raise

Green features: Rain gardens, geo-thermal heating wells, floor-to-ceiling windows that limit need for artificial lighting and eco-friendly construction.

Design: The building’s roof resembles an open book. A children’s garden, areas for outdoor meetings and a large bicycle island bond the library to the outdoors. Interior will be laid out nearly identically to the Fairmount Street branch, including a cafe, Friends store and community meeting rooms.

 Construction schedule: Bidding in May, construction starting in July, with opening spring 2010.