Casteel family donates land for new library site

Officials hoping for Fall 2007 opening


By Richard Zowie

Times Guardian Staff Writer

Right now, aside from the scenic beauty to be viewed from its vantage point, it looks unremarkable. To the casual observer, perhaps to a Canyon Lake visitor from outside Comal County, it's little more than a hilly piece of land with trees and sparse vegetation.

Three years from now, if all goes well with the planning, the six-acre plot will be home to the new location of the Tye Preston Memorial Library.

On June 25, Texas State Rep. Carter Casteel (R-Dist. 73) and members of her family met with library officials at the site and formally conveyed the land to them and the library.

The land has been owned by the Carter family since the 1950s. Following the death in April of Casteel's mother-in-law, Mabel Casteel Jones, the land was bequeathed to her son Barron and his sister, Cheryl.

Barron Casteel, who attended the ceremony with his wife Michele, described it as a family decision to give the property to the library.

Representative Casteel said libraries are one of the most important institutions for a community to have.

"If you have a library, then you have people who are interested in reading, intelligent and interested in growth," she said. "A library is an economic generator for an area."

At its current location on FM 2673, the library consists of about 5,600 square feet with a small parking lot. The new location is on the South Access Road about half a mile before the dam and across from the Community Resource and Recreation Center. The new $2 million library will be about 20,000 square feet in size.

Among the possible amenities in the new library, according to Nagy, are a computer lab, a bigger meeting room, more restrooms and "more areas that customers can sit and read quietly.

"We hope to have a lot more parking," she added. "We're going to have room to spread out."

Nagy said the library has an architect and hopes to break ground in September.

"If we could, we'd like to move in next week, but it's probably going to be Summer 2007," she said.

"We were just thrilled when we heard of the land donation," said library director Ronnie Nagy. "We investigated trying to add to [our current location], but it wouldn't have given us any more parking. We investigated land to buy, but a lot of it is very expensive. When they offered us the land we were thrilled to death. It's a wonderful gift."

Noting the area's population boom from three years ago, Nagy said the bigger space would help the library to serve the lake's growing needs. They have doubled their circulation from 2001 and have seen their summer reading program jump from 20 kids for two weeks in 2001 to 150 kids for six weeks now.

"Visitors [to the area] have been just skyrocketing," she said. "The demographics at lake have changed, and there are so many children. We're hoping it will be the kind of place everybody at Canyon Lake will be proud of."

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