CANONSBURG – A sprawling surface parking lot is expected to be built for patrons using the Frank Sarris Public Library in Canonsburg.
The parking lot would have 75 to 80 spots and be constructed along Murdock Street directly behind the library, according to Sarris Library Board President Manuel Pihakis.
Construction is expected to cost more than $350,000 and the parking lot could be ready by July, Pihakis said.
But the plans to build a fence around the lot and place it right behind several buildings that face West Pike Street has upset at least one landlord. Kathleen Norton, a Chartiers Township resident who owns one of the buildings, said she’s concerned that a once-public space is being closed off with gates that could restrict residents from leaving their apartments in case of an emergency.
“If there’s an emergency, they’re stuck between a fence and potentially a burning building,” she said. “That’s a big concern.”
Pihakis said the library must put gates around the lot and restrict parking from 8 p.m. to 11 a.m. because there are concerns about skateboarders using the property and criminal activity late at night.
“We feel bad, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Pihakis said. “We definitely have to fence it in. The kids that are using these skateboards and the other activities, they would be going down there and partying. It would be too much of a liability for us.”
The lot would be available during football games and other athletic events at the nearby Canon-McMillan Memorial Stadium, although the library would charge for parking those activities. Norton is also protesting that idea.
“That’s just not in the spirit of a public library,” Norton said. “I don’t think a public library should be making money off football games or graduation.”
Pihakis said the board is going to Canonsburg’s planning commission with the layout next month and will send out construction bids after getting final approval from the borough. The parking lot would be free to library patrons and could be ready as early as July.
The property was previously owned by the Sarris family, which gave it to the library to use at its discretion.