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Making Room for Books

Many brave heat for library groundbreaking.

At the much awaited groundbreaking ceremony for the Burke Centre Library, a little history of the site was incorporated into the celebration of what’s to come.

The library will be built on land that was once a horse farm, near the intersection of the Fairfax County Parkway and Freds Oak Road, which is why the Fairfax County Library Foundation thought pony rides for children would be appropriate at the Saturday, July 29, groundbreaking ceremony.

“It’s just a little something extra we can do to support the library,” said Martina Murphy, finance manager of the foundation.

As the sun shined down from the cloudless sky, Burke VFW Post 5412 presented the colors and stood patiently in the 90-degree heat while local officials spoke to the large crowd of spectators. Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) kicked off the ceremony by thanking those who have remained loyal to the project since talks of putting a library branch in Burke Centre began.

“Nothing happens in the Braddock District without a lot of community involvement,” said Bulova.

The community’s involvement, or at least its interest, was prevalent at the ceremony. Even the extreme heat didn’t deter more than 100 people from showing up. Michael Larose, who lives on the Burke-Fairfax border, came to support the library because of the convenience he said it will bring.

“It’s great to have one [a library] right in the neighborhood,” said Larose. “I think it increases property values too.”

THE BURKE CENTRE Library is one of two new county library branches to be built with funding from a $52.5 million library bond passed by voters in 2004. The money will also finance the renovation of four of the county’s oldest branches, infrastructure repairs to many branches and preliminary design for renovations in more county branches. The Burke Centre Library is scheduled to open in the spring of 2008.

“It’s very exciting,” said Sam Clay, director of the Fairfax County Public Library. “This is the third attempt to have this library built.”

Clay said the first time the library caught fire and the second time there were budget issues that were never resolved. The ongoing efforts by the Board of Supervisors, said Clay, is what finally got the Burke Centre Library on its feet. The county estimates a 6.6 percent population growth in the Braddock District by 2020, which is why a library branch in the area was needed to meet the high demand soon to come, said Clay. The neighboring Springfield District is expected to have a 16 percent population growth in the same time period.

In order to give the future residents a taste of what life was like in 2008, Bulova has created a task force to come up with ideas for the contents of a time capsule. The task force’s theme is a day in the life of a librarian. The time capsule will include different pictures and memories from the years the library was under construction. At the ceremony, Bulova’s staff, Florence Naeve and Diane Thompson, organized the spectators and their children into one big group. They passed out pieces of paper with letters that spelled out, “Hello to Citizens of 2038.”

Another design feature of the library, said Bulova, will be to “let the outside in.” The interior of the branch will go along with the natural theme of the Burke Centre Conservancy. A large oak tree that used to stand on the site will also have a place in the new library, said Pat Riedinger, president of the Friends of the Burke Centre Library group. The tree was diseased, said Riedinger, but the group is trying to figure out a way to incorporate some of its trunk into the main entrance to the library.

“We want the inside of the library to reflect this property,” said Riedinger.