SOUTHINGTON — Proposals for a new or renovated library presented to the public could cost nearly $20 million, a total higher than officials expected.
Instead, they anticipated a total cost of just over $15 million.
Jeffrey Hoover, an architect with Tappé Architects, presented options to the library planning committee on Tuesday night that included a new building on the south portion of the library property and the renovation and expansion of the existing building.
A new building with all features requested by library officials would cost $19.7 million, while a renovation with the features would cost $19.9 million.
Joanne Kelleher, library board member and planning committee chairwoman, didn’t think a $20 million building would be accepted by the Town Council, which must approve the project.
To bring costs in line with expectations, Hoover shrank both plans. The full plans for both options would have added nearly 15,000 square feet over the existing library. Hoover showed the board options that would not have as much space.
“We do think we have a revised way forward that comes in on budget,” Hoover said.
Kelleher and Library Director Kristi Sadowski weren’t thrilled at the reduced scope.
Sadowksi said anything is better than the current space, which she isn’t big enough, lacks accessibility for the disabled and doesn’t meet fire code. But she was hesitant to scale down plans for a new building.
“Are we going to ask the community to spend $15 million and then tell them they can’t send their children to all the programs they want or have a quiet space in the building or have any of the other things we talked about?” Sadowski said.
Kelleher said the planning committee will meet again next week with Hoover. The committee has until early March to make a recommendation to the Town Council.
“We asked him to give us some other options because we weren’t happy with the options” presented Tuesday, Kelleher said.
Library officials had estimated the $15 million price tag based on average construction costs per square foot for area libraries. Estimates for construction costs came in higher, Hoover said.
Kelleher said the final budget is decided by the Town Council.
“We would certainly like that number to go up,” she said. “We’re not locked into any particular number yet, but we need to get a combination of the largest size at the lowest cost.”
Tom Lombardi, Town Council vice chairman, said Wednesday that it was too early to comment on library costs. The issue has been discussed by the council in closed-door executive session.
“We have to wait until it comes to the council floor for discussion,” Lombardi said.
He said the library brings a lot of value to the town but that residents will ultimately decide because the price tag will mean a referendum.
“At the end of the day, no matter what the number is, it’s going to be up to the voters,” Lombardi said.