Miami Beach

Bay Harbor Islands to begin building community center including town library

This rendering shows the outside of the new community center at night.
This rendering shows the outside of the new community center at night. Courtesy of Stantec / Town of Bay Harbor Islands

Dorothy Whittall has longed for years that Bay Harbor Islands have a town library.

Seven years ago, the former librarian in Surfside promised her vote to then-town council candidate Jordan Leonard — now the mayor — if he pushed for a library.

On Thursday, Leonard, council members and Town Manager Ronald Wasson donned hard hats and shoveled a ceremonial pile of dirt to mark the beginning of a six-month project to develop a long-awaited community center in a 8,000 square foot space on the first floor of the 95th Street garage.

The center will have a library, which will help feed Whittall’s voracious appetite for books. She’s read 103 books already this year.

“They really came through,” said Whittal, 85.

In addition to the stacks, the center will provide a permanent home for the town’s youth and senior programs. It will occupy a currently empty space at the southeast corner of the garage, directly across from the Ruth K. Broad K-8 Center.

Construction will cost $1.9 million, which is mostly coming from dollars the town received from transfer of development right deals. A state grant of $500,000 will also help pay.

“This is a real dream come true,” Leonard said.

Wasson said preliminary discussions about a community center started in 2008, but the project really started to take shape recently.

“It took a few years to get to this point,” he said.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech