SOUTHINGTON — A combination of cost-cutting measures and planned fundraising has the new library building project close enough to the $17 million goal to move towards bidding.
Town residents approved $17 million for a new library at a referendum last year. Architects estimated an initial design would cost $19 million, prompting town officials to investigate ways to reduce costs.
During a presentation to the Town Council Monday night, architects estimated the cost of a new library to be just over $17 million. That’s also assuming library supporters can raise $700,000 to offset costs even after cost-cutting measures.
Reducing the size of the building brought down expenses as well as reducing features such as two-story glass windows and some outside landscaping. The true test of costs will be receiving bids from companies actually willing to do the work, according to Town Manager Mark Sciota.
“The rubber hits the road when you go out to bid and then you can make some concrete decisions,” he said.New building, new space
Building a smaller library than originally presented to town residents concerned some Town Council members such as Jack Perry, a Democrat.
“We’re already starting in the wrong direction,” Perry said.
Ron Paolillo, project manager with the architectural firm DRA, said the new design brings the library into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and eliminates the noise problem of the current building. The new design was also more effective even though not greatly larger than the existing building.
“The advantage of this design and layout is within a little bit more square footage than what you currently have, you have much more functional space,” he said. “We’ve given some very flexible community, public space in community rooms.”
The new building could be about 3,000 square feet bigger than the existing one.
A library capital fundraising committee is working to provide for the new library with donations. About $350,000 has been raised so far according to Sciota. The town can’t spend more on the project than what was approved at referendum, he said.Timeline
Project Manager Tim Kostuk of Whiting-Turner laid out the proposed timeline for council members on Monday. He’s hoping for a completed building in the fall of 2024 but said town leaders would have to authorize ordering some materials soon to reach that goal. Backlogs of materials such as steel and electrical switching gear extend for months. The best case for electrical switching gear, for example, was a 54 week wait.
“We need the switch gear ordered no later than April of this year,” Kostuk said.
Council chairwoman Victoria Triano said some suggestions raised Monday night could be considered over the next month before a final plan is brought before the council.
Kostuk hoped bid documents could be finalized in late April with a groundbreaking in early July. The building could be watertight in February of 2024 and the occupancy process begun in September.
Triano praised the work of the library building committee and the library board Monday night. While there were suggestions for changes from councilors, Triano said that “90 percent of what’s been done has been well received here.”