Meagan Calnon, a Jackson High School graduate, will offer a hometown touch as the project architect.

Construction of a Jackson Township branch for the Stark County District Library will have a local touch.

Meagan Calnon, a Jackson High graduate, will be project architect for HBM Architects, the Cleveland-based architecture and design firm hired by the library district for the project.

The company is starting work on a new library for Jackson's North Park. The building will replace one that was closed in July 2016 and demolished last summer. The building was only 25 years old but had suffered water damage through the years and was considered outdated.

A new library is part of a plan to build an amphitheater in the southeast section of North Park. Basketball courts and a skate park will be moved to another section of North Park.

HBM specializes in designing library buildings. The company has worked on a number of library projects around Ohio and when possible designates a staff member to lead construction if a project is in the staff member's hometown.

Calnon has worked for HBM since June 2013 after earning her master's degree in architecture from the University of Illinois. She called the assignment — her first as a project architect — exciting and extra special because it's a chance to work in Jackson Township. "I think it's going to be a great project," she said.

Family ties

Born in North Carolina, Calnon's family moved to Jackson Township in 2001. She attended middle school and high school in Jackson, graduating in 2007.

She has fond memories of the original library building in North Park.

It was the place to work on projects and do research after school. She would browse for books and movies with her older brother. When her family took road trips, the library was a place to visit beforehand to stock up on tapes and books. While a college student, Calnon worked as a nanny and the library was a place to visit with the children she watched.

For several years now, Mary Calnon, Meagan's mother, has been on the Stark County District Library Foundation. "That I get to be involved makes it more special for her," Meagan said.

Work on the new building is in the early stages.

The library district announced plans in the spring 2016 to close the North Park building and relocate to the Marketplace at Nobles Pond. The move was made after a study showed the cost to repair and remodel would be nearly as much building a new branch.

After a year in the shopping center, library officials reviewed the operation and said they were considering remaining at site and not rebuilding. Township officials and library patrons didn't like that idea and after several well-attended meetings, the district restated plans to build a new branch.

Moving forward

Since then the library district and Jackson Township officials have met, along with architecture firms. The project is moving along, said Tena Wilson, executive director. Members of the library's board have looked at some designs and plan to visit a Cuyahoga County Public Library branch designed by HBM.

Last week, Jackson Township trustees approved a plan for placing a sign at the site. The goal is to keep residents informed about the project and show it's moving forward, said Randy Gonzalez, the township's fiscal agent.

Work should begin during 2018. An early drawing has the library sitting close to Fulton Drive NW, with the amphitheater closer to Community parkway NW, which passes through the park between Fulton and Wales Avenue NW.

The township has hired the Sol Harris/Day firm for work designing the amphitheater and making other changes in the park. While in college, Calnon was a summer intern at the local firm.

Gonzalez likes that someone with local ties will be part of the project. "Anytime our people come back, we love to see that."

HBM has built libraries throughout Ohio and in 15 other states. The company has worked on Stark County District Library branches, including the Plain Community branch in GlenOak High School and the Perry Sippo branch at Exploration Gateway in Sippo Park.

Since joining HBM, Calnon has worked on dozens of library projects and taken leadership roles on 10 projects. She enjoys the work because "you're not doing the same thing each day. You get to do some fun stuff."

She hopes to incorporate new ideas that have been used at libraries HBM has designed around the country. The goal is to have an innovative, people-centric building that is flexible and can change to meet community needs, she said. The building has to be capable of adapting and evolving.

Because her family still lives here, Calnon understands how important the library is to Jackson Township residents.

"To be able to have my hand in it is a special thing," she said.

Reach Edd at 330-580-8484 or edd.pritchard@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @epritchardREP