A Winter Building Project Update

It has been a long time since the last building project update largely because we have been in what’s often called “hurry up and wait” mode. The Holidays added a bit of delay, as they usually do, but we are now close to a new phase of activity.
At the time of the last report, the library staff had finished working with our architect, Joe Huberty of Engberg-Anderson, to accomplish a couple of tasks that are essential for preliminary design and cost estimating.
First, we revised and completed a program plan. This plan addresses both what a building needs to hold, things like furniture, shelving, technology, and service desks, and what it needs to do. It’s the basis for developing the floorplans, which was the second task we finished. This work helped us and the architect to determine the nature and features of the library’s interior. It’s absolutely vital to design a library from the inside out. A pretty building designed from the outside in too often creates functional problems, making it hard for patrons and staff to use the building effectively.
After the interior was addressed, Joe came to town to conduct a third design charette, collecting and refining community ideas about the building’s exterior – what it needs to look like. Armed with this information, Joe retreated to his office and finished the preliminary schematic design drawings. These are not yet full blueprints, but they provide enough information to move beyond general cost estimates to specific construction costs.
Around the first of the year, Engberg-Anderson passed the baton to Ryan Companies. As the developer Ryan companies will serve as the construction manager of the project and they have spent the last month identifying construction details and specific cost estimates. For some time now, we’ve been working with a general construction cost estimate for the new library of $12 million for a new building of about 47,000 square feet. That estimate is based on library construction square foot average costs. These costs have not changed much in the last two years, but we need something that is both more accurate and timely. Ryan will have that estimate before the end of this month and that will prompt a new round of discussion and activity.
The first step will be to compare the actual construction cost estimates of the preliminary building design with our original estimate. If the new estimates are too high, we will need to scale back our plans, possibly considering a smaller building. The Board would rather compromise on quantity than quality. If the new estimates come in close to the originals, then we can move to the next phase of the project.
That phase will include OPN’s design plans for the private components of the mixed-use project so that we can present a complete picture of the project to the public, including renderings, cost, and return estimates. The project has to be viable as a public library building project and a community development project, and we will organize public input on the final proposal. One of the first stops on that road will be the City Council. As soon as possible, we plan to present the final proposal to the Council as the first step in the next phase of the project, and then this site will start to see frequent updates again.
Finally, the Library Search Committee has selected finalists for the Director’s position and they will be in town on Monday and Tuesday, February 8 and 9 for interviews. A public forum will be held on Monday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 to introduce the candidates and get public input. There will be a form that you can complete to provide your thoughts regarding the best selection. We hope to see you there.