As part of his January 2011 FY12 Capital Budget and Amendments to the FY11-16 CIP submittal to the County Council, the County Executive has included a new project that would fund a feasibility study to analyze and study a combined new Wheaton Library and a new Wheaton Community Recreation Center facility built on the sites of the current two facilities. Other issues that would be part of the study include the transfer of the Wheaton Community Recreation Center property from M-NCPPC to the County, providing road access to the residences by relocating existing roads and access, determining how stormwater management can be provided, and preparing concept layouts for the building and parking on the new combined site.
A renovation of the Wheaton Library was first submitted and approved by the County Executive and the County Council during the FY05-10 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Budget cycle. An update to the project was submitted by the Department and approved by Council and the Executive during the FY07-12 CIP cycle. With the renovation scheduled to begin in July 2009, the Library Department had discussions with Council during the CIP departmental review in the spring of 2008 about the possibility of a new library being built in the Central Business District. However, neither the location nor the timetable for a new library was known. Because the County Executive was interested in investigating further a relocation of the Wheaton Library, the County Council removed the Wheaton Library renovation project from the list of FY09-14 approved projects and asked the County Executive and Department staff to return to Council for project approval when a decision on the type of project needed for the Wheaton Library was known.
In 2008, the County hired the International Downtown Association to assemble an expert panel to provide advice on how government facilities might be used to foster redevelopment in the Central Business District of Wheaton. After four days of observing and listening to Wheaton stakeholders, the panel recommended that a library be located adjacent to a new Town Square and be developed in combination with an arts/cultural center.
The Library Department held a public meeting on February 9, 2009, to hear the pros and cons from the Wheaton Library community on renovating the current facility or relocating the current library to a location in the Central Business District. The Library Department also provided an email address and comment cards to the audience so that additional input could be provided and so that residents who were not able to attend the 2/9/09 meeting could provide their opinions. The email address was active through 3/16/09 and received more than 200 comments.
In January 2010, based on public feedback received and his consideration of six factors (including the wishes of current library customers, the future needs of the library in its current location versus selecting another site and constructing a new building, comparative costs of renovation versus relocation, how the project fit into the broader needs of the Wheaton community in general, the potential future use of the current library building; and the suitability of the current site to the needs of the community), County Executive Isiah Leggett decided to keep the Wheaton Library in its current location and to include a timetable for planning, design, and construction in the next Capital Improvements Program.
In October 2010, the Mid County Regional Services Center sponsored a community meeting to discuss the status of the Rafferty Center. At that meeting, the Department of General Services proposed a combined Recreation and Library facility on the site of the current Wheaton Library and Wheaton Neighborhood Community Center. The attendees at that meeting were very supportive of the proposed joint library/recreation center project.