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Community meetings welcome input on Reserve Library project

RESERVE — The public will have an opportunity to engage with St. John the Baptist Parish Library leaders and give input on the upcoming construction of a new Reserve Library at a series of community engagement sessions to be held at REGALA Gym in Reserve.

The sessions will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18 and at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 19.

St. John the Baptist Parish Library Director Andrea Tullos said the public will receive an overview of the Reserve building project, including the process and feasibility study used in land selection in Fall 2020. The community will also share ideas for programming within the new facility. All attendees will have the opportunity to make comments and complete a written survey, which can also be completed online.

At this time, the St. John the Baptist Parish Library System has purchased land along River Road, adjacent to the St. John Theatre. There are currently three structures on the property at 1482, 1488 and 1490 Highway 44 in Reserve.

All three of the properties are one-and-a-half-story, bungalow style homes along the River Road. The structures at 1488 Highway 44 and 1490 Highway 44 have an estimated construction date of 1935, while the structure at 1482 Highway 44 has an estimated construction date of 1925.

According to Tullos, the Design Committee has researched preserving the house located directly next to St, John Theatre. However, final designs are not completed, and no decisions have been made at this time regarding the local properties being relocated or demolished.

Tullos said these decisions will be part of the design process.

“The final decisions have not been made for any design features. That is where the community input comes in,” Tullos said. “The project could be completed within 12 months, once design plans are completed.”

According to Tullos, the Library Board of Control began saving for a Reserve relocation project years ago, and there will be no additional funding requests to the community. While costs are also not finalized, the feasibility study for the project included a budget of approximately $9 million, including land purchase expenses.

Tullos has stated that the relocation of the Reserve Library from its current West 10th Street location to Highway 44 is intended to increase accessibility and levee trail access while adding much needed parking space. The new Library is expected to be three to four times larger than the current location.

Since all four St. John Parish Library buildings are owned by the Parish government, as per state statute, the Parish would determine the use of the West 10th Street facility once the site is vacated.

“Our libraries are considered community buildings, and having the community participate in forming the uses and the design is very important,” Tullos said. “We want this new library to reflect the community while also preserving the history of the River Road corridor. If people are interested in staying updated and participating along the way, we will provide an opportunity for them to sign up for our e-newsletter.”