MERIDEN — An architectural firm has presented a committee overseeing library renovations with three options: a partial renovation, full renovation, and expansion of the library along with a full renovation.
TSKP Studios presented the options to the Library Review Committee at a meeting earlier this month. The nine-person committee, created by the City Council in June 2016, is expected to pick one of the three at a meeting June 12. The committee’s recommendation would then be submitted to the City Council for final approval.
The city began looking at renovations years back because the library has not undergone any major renovations since the 1970s and some areas, including the children’s section and bathrooms, are in desperate need of repair, city officials have said.
“It is no longer meeting the needs of our community,” said City Councilor Brian Daniels, who chairs the council’s Finance Committee and sits on the Library Review Committee.
Here are details and other things to know:1. The options
The review committee also received rough cost estimates from the firm, with each renovation option ranging between about $6 million and about $9 million.
The first renovation option, estimated at $9.3 million, would add a 9,000-square-foot addition to the 45,000-square-foot library and include expansion and update of the Children's Room, Teen Center multipurpose areas and bathrooms.
Carmine Trotta, chairman of the review committee, said this option “gave us the space we need to best meet all the objectives that were suggested” by nearly 3,000 members of the public through a survey sent out by the library a few years back.
Trotta said this option would also create “a café or vending area, an entry facade with front entry landscaping and a new stair configuration in the rear.”
“It also provides construction that has the front and back entries in alignment for better visual control,” he said. “The positioning of a multi-purpose area in the new addition allows for use when the main library is closed.”
For the expansion, the city would need to purchase a property adjacent to the library at 33 Catlin St., where a vacant single-family home currently sits. The cost estimate for the option includes the cost of purchasing the property, Trotta said.
The library would not have to move services during construction under this option, unlike the other two options.
The second option, estimated at $7.8 million, would not add any space but would include a full renovation of the existing library.
“This option helps meet some of the objectives but shows minimal expansion of the children's room and multipurpose areas,” Trotta said. “It allows for good expansion of the teen center but only the upgrade of the first floor bathrooms.”
The third option, estimated at $6.3 million, would not add any space and would only renovate 75 percent of the library’s lower floor. Trotta said this option provides the same upgrades of the children’s room and multipurpose area and the same expansion of the teen center. However, this option provides fewer mechanical, lighting and energy upgrades as the second option. 2. State grant
To help cover some of the costs, the city plans to apply for a $1 million grant through the state’s “Grant Program for Public Library Construction.”
The state only has about $8 million in the library construction fund right now, according to Trotta, and the city is “trying to move fast to get a portion of the remaining funds.” The deadline for applying for the money is late August, meaning the City Council would need to give the renovations final approval prior to that. 3. Upcoming timeline
A public information session will be held on June 6 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Griffin Room at the library for residents to learn more about the renovations.
“In addition to some background information by the committee, there will be a presentation by the architects of the firm TSKP of Hartford,” Trotta said. “This will show some of the options the committee is considering.”
After the Library Review Committee votes to select a renovation option on June 12, the committee will meet again on July 24 to review schematics for the selected option.
The City Council will then refer the matter to the Finance Committee, which will take it up at a special meeting on Aug. 12, Trotta said. The full council will then vote on the Finance Committee’s recommendation on Aug. 19.
Trotta said the committee intends to “make a recommendation we feel is best for the city taking into consideration what the public told us during a town meeting last year, and the survey where nearly 3,000 people responded.”
While the committee has not taken a vote yet, Trotta personally prefers the first option because it would allow more space for programming.
“There’s only so many square feet,” Trotta said. “If you expand in one area, you might be taking away from something else.”
Even though option 1 has the highest price tag, Trotta believes it gives the city the most bang for its buck.
“It’s a much more efficient use of funding and offers so much more to the city,” he said.4. Fundraisers
The nonprofit Friends of the Meriden Public Library is raising money for the renovations and will hold two mini-golf fundraisers at the library next month.
An adults-only mini-golf event will be held Friday, June 14 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the library. The event will be catered by three local businesses – Il Monticello, Paul’s Deli, and Valencia Liquor and Wine Shop. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the Friends Bookstore at the library or by contacting library board treasurer Fred Zierler at FZierler@cox.net.
The following morning on June 15, another mini-golf event will be held for families from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event will be sponsored by local businesses and admission is free of charge.