SOUTHINGTON — Town leaders looking for an architect to design a new library are conducting interviews with four firms this week.
The town earmarked $35,000 to draw up plans for a new library. Library director Kristi Sadowski said there are accessibility, fire code and space issues with the current building downtown.
Joanne Kelleher, a library board member, said the committee has several people who have helped guide construction projects. The panel includes Kelleher, Zoning Board of Appeals member Erica Byrne, Bread for Life board member David Donnelly, HQ Dumpsters & Recycling owner Jack Perry and Board of Finance member Edward Pocock Jr.
Donnelly helped oversee construction of a new Bread for Life building. Perry recently completed a new building for his business, Kelleher said, and Pocock was chairman of the middle schools building committee.
The committee will conduct the final two interviews on Wednesday and choose a firm soon after, Kelleher said.
“It will be fairly soon,” Kelleher said. “It’s important for us to make the decision close to when we’ve heard all four of the presentations.”
Sadowksi said an architect can provide ideas as well as rough cost estimates for a building to replace the current library.
“We’re hoping to get some concept plans for how we can address the many building issues and the needs of the community,” she said.
Sadowski said there’s little quiet space to study in the current building and the children's section is too small. Many aisles are too narrow for wheelchairs. Other areas are not up to current fire code, such as landings near the elevator. The decades-old building only has internet lines in one location and has few outlets.
The building was constructed in 1974 and totals 21,000 square feet.
Previous plans for a new library ran as high as $19 million. Sadowski said that wasn't palatable to town leaders.
An architect needs to be approved by the library board and then the Town Council.