Horizon West bookworms rejoice: The Orange County Library System has unveiled new details on the area’s first public library.
OCLS held a community meeting Tuesday, March 28, at the Waterleigh Clubhouse to unveil plans for the state-of-the-art library facility. The new library, currently in the design development phase, will be located within the planned Horizon West Regional Park, off Hamlin Groves Trail.
OCLS signed a ground lease with Orange County to get the project moving forward, said Nicole Wilson, District 1 county commissioner.
The library system’s board of trustees prioritized Horizon West getting a library because of the booming population, Wilson said.
“They approved moving forward with the acquisition of the land and the design,” she said. “All of that cost a lot of money.”
When the Lake Nona community began pushing for a library in 2021, this put the Horizon West community in a competition for the county’s budget dollars, she said.
“It presented a new obstacle for us and for me, who really wanted to see Horizon West be the next branch in line,” Wilson said.
With the price of land on the rise, she said, the county looked into leasing land.
“Our real estate office was able to nail down a long-term land lease on the edge of where the (Horizon West) Regional Park was going to be,” she said. “All the design from there then was going to include the park.”
The library campus will include 11 acres with shared parking, retention ponds, the library building, an outdoor area and space for a future recreation center.
The 20,000-square-foot library building with outdoor space will be on 1.1 acres.
Borrelli + Partners, an architecture, planning, landscape and interior firm, created the library design. The Horizon West branch will include a lobby, children’s section, an area for collections, public computers, training rooms, study rooms, a media lab, meeting rooms, outdoor stage, administration area and support space.
“It will have everything that every other library has,” said Danielle King, chief branch officer for OCLS.
Wilson is thrilled to see the building will include so much meeting space.
The library will have meeting space with flex walls that can accommodate large or small events. There is one large space with about 1,300 square feet and two other rooms that are about 700 square feet each — and these can all be opened to create one 2,700-square-foot room.
People in the Horizon West area have long complained about the lack of meeting space, she said.
“I think the thing that was the most encouraging for the people in the area was for those wanting community and event space,” Wilson said. “It will fill a huge community need. The design is so beautiful.”
The design also incorporates natural elements that blend in with the regional park.
“They are really focused on understanding they are going to be in a park and there will be some beautiful surroundings,” Wilson said. “They wanted to make it very ‘outside coming inside.’ … I think it will be a great fit.”
King said she is happy to see this library facility in progress and also is excited to see the design includes open meeting space and the outdoor area.
“All the rooms are going to open up to the outside,” King said. “There will be areas where people can hang out and events can move out there. In the back of the library, we’re going to have a small outdoor stage … enough space to host small events, maybe some music, some children’s events. And we will have a small grassy area to put chairs out or people can bring blankets.”
OCLS entered an agreement with Conserv II, which owns the land to be used for the regional park, to do preliminary work on the property.
“Because we’re going to be the first building in that space, we agreed to do the infrastructure and the site development for them so they could develop the space in the future — the road access, the retention ponds so they will be able to accommodate our building and a future building,” King said.
The future recreation center space could accommodate a YMCA or other community-based organization, Wilson said. It is part of the overall regional park plan.
The parking area will include a separate equestrian parking area since the regional park will have a number of equestrian trails.