FAIRHOPE – Improvements on the uncompleted second floor of the Fairhope Public Library are expected in the upcoming year, almost 15 years after the facility was built, project supporters said.
Ann Johnson, chairwoman of the Fairhope Library Board of Directors, told members of the City Council on Monday, June 14, that the board and library staff members are preparing plans and raising money for renovations on the second floor of the library.
“We anticipate putting out bids next year, fiscal year ’22, for the construction,” Johnson said. “Obviously, this next phase will help us develop a realistic budget, help the friends and the foundation look at fundraising efforts to the coming year.”
Plans for the second floor include a space for teens, a revamped technical services area and meeting rooms for the Friends of the Fairhope Library, Johnson said.
Johnson and board members said the work should take about six months.
Dan Stankoski, a board member who was on the Fairhope City Council when the library opened in 2007, said supporters have hoped for the expansion for a long time.
“I was on the council when the library was built and the reason that it was built the size that it was was to have this expansion and now, we’ve been looking at it for two to five years and it’s finally coming around the way it supposed to,” Stankoski said.
Library supporters and city officials do not know how much the project will cost. Ann Brooks of the engineering firm of Mott MacDonald, said designs will have to be drawn up before a cost estimate can be made.
She said that recent changes in construction costs also make an accurate estimate difficult before all the details of the project have been planned.
While the library is managed by the board, the facility is city property. Marcus McDowell, city attorney, said the city will have to go out for bids on the project and approve the engineering work.
“You’re tearing out part of a city building,” McDowell told council members. “Y’all are in charge of the property, so you’ve got to approve all that. You’ve got to approve the construction and the re-engineering and redesign of everything. I think it’s safer if you just go ahead and run through the city process and do it that way.”
Councilman Jimmy Conyers, council liaison to the Library Board, said that while library supporters will be raising money for the work, the city will also have to provide funds as well as oversee the work.
“At the time that we have construction docs coming back to the city to put it out to bid, because it is city-owned property and we’re the ones who are going to have to step in and help the library with the funding, that’s something that we would need the City Council and the mayor to be on board with and then building that into their budget,” Conyers said.
The council also voted June 14 to approve a replacement air-conditioning unit for the library. The council voted to approve the purchase for a York unit at a cost of $88,125.25. George Ladd, assistant public works director, said the other unit considered, a Trane model, was considered more reliable and quieter.
Council members said, however, that the Trane was also much more expensive at a cost of about $131,000.