NORTH EAST — With construction on the new North East Branch Library underway, one of the local contractors at the heart of the project is reflecting on his experience in building a structure that he hopes will be a symbol of the community.

Robert Payne, owner of Elkton-based construction contractor Terra-Con Company, Inc., has been an Elkton resident all of his life. So when his company was contracted for the library project, which is being built off of Maryland Route 272 on a parcel of land between the Food Lion and West Marine, Payne was immediately on board.

“Being part of Elkton and Cecil County has always been a situation where you know everyone,” Payne said. “You go into town on Saturdays and you’re waving to everybody. Here we are in the middle of a high-visibility site that’s going to be a landmark to the community for decades to come and I get to be a part of that. Who would not be excited?”

Cecil County Public Library Director Morgan Miller said the library system wanted to keep the project close to home by hiring local contractors.

“This new library is an important community project funded largely through public dollars,” she said. “Recognizing this, we strived to connect the county’s many talented, qualified sub-contractors with information about all of the opportunities available. Our construction manager, Wohlsen Construction, has been committed to helping us do this throughout the project.”

James Campbell, superintendent for Wohlsen Construction, is proud to be working on the library project.

“I’m excited to be a part of it from start to finish. It’s going to be beautiful, like a piece of art,” Campbell said.

Payne said the county is home to plenty of contractors for the library and other construction projects.

“I’ve always believed that the better the ingredients, the better the cake rises,” he said. “Cecil County and Elkton have a lot of good people and a lot of good contractors, and we all get to work together which is a benefit not just at this site but at other sites as well. I’m fortunate to work in my backyard.”

The North East Branch Library has been budgeted at $18 million, will be approximately 43,000 square feet — including both the first and second floor — and will feature a 10,000 square-foot wing for CCPL’s operation headquarters. CCPL’s current headquarters is situated at the Elkton Branch Library and supports the library system’s seven branches and traveling bookmobile.

The library’s entrance will face the shopping center’s parking lot at an angle, and a drive-thru book drop-off will be on the west side of the building.

The new library, which is expected to be completed in late 2020, will be 15 times larger than the current 2,800-square-foot building, which is located just off of the town’s Main Street.

The expanded floor space will allow for more books, a digital media lab, a sound booth area, and separate spaces for children and teenagers on the second floor, including an early learning center.

Payne said the library will be part of his legacy — something his 14-year-old daughter will be able to tell people for the rest of her life.

“For decades to come, she’ll always say ‘My dad helped build that library,’” he said.

For more information about the new North East Branch Library, people can visit https://www.northeastlibrary.org/, the website that CCPL created for updates specific to the library project. The website features photos from the site, as well as a virtual reality experience that gives people 360 degree, simulated views of some of the spaces in the new library.

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