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Sussex-Wantage Library Amphitheatre
Two years ago the County Facilities Division was approached by our friends in the Sussex-Wantage area who have supported the County library system for many years. This group, known as "The Friends of the Library", has a long-standing and positive relationship with the County, and were involved in the design of the new Sussex-Wantage branch library.
The County Engineer’s office designed the site improvements for the original construction, which included a small passive area at the rear of the library that could be used for gatherings. Unfortunately, the area once graded, turned out to be not well-suited due primarily to the clay-type soil and the water that oozed from the ground for most of the spring. There were no improvements constructed when the branch was built such as lighting, a stage, walkways, etc, that would welcome gatherings, the cost for this was not funded.
The Friends approached the County with a design concept, which was the impetus for the current work, just recently completed. As this is a public space, there needs to be access and many others issues addressed in the design to make the space safe, accommodating, and aesthetically pleasing to use. Local architectural and landscape architect design firms were engaged by the Friends and the project began to take shape.
The County Engineer’s office took charge in developing the site plan, drainage system, surveying, and application to the Land Use Board so that construction permits could be obtained. Their work, paired with that of the architect and landscape architect was presented to and approved by the Land Use Board.
Nearly all funds to purchase materials and services from local contractors and suppliers were provided by the Friends of the Library through their "amphitheatre committee" who graciously worked with the County to accomplish our mutual goals, which was to have a pleasant and effective place to gather for events sponsored by the Friends or the Library system. Events could include puppet shows for young ones, plays or skits, musical entertainment, and public presentations.
The Facilities Management Division provided the labor and equipment and management needed to pull together the site development, the County survey team provided their support with layout and elevation work, and a local electrical contractor donated a portion of their time and materials to the project.
The Friends are working with the County Library system on a grand opening presentation when the public and project participants will be invited to come and enjoy the fruit of a very productive public-private partnering. It is truly amazing what can be accomplished in such partnering, and I can say I truly enjoyed working with the Friends and our other partners, and look forward to being able to bring my folding chair and sit back in the amphitheatre to enjoy a show.