By Guy Busby
FAIRHOPE – Improvements to the unfinished second floor of the Fairhope Public Library are expected over the coming year, almost 15 years after the facility was built, proponents said.
Ann Johnson, chair of the Fairhope Library board of directors, told city council members on Monday, June 14 that the library’s board and staff are making plans and raising money for the renovations from the second floor of the library.
“We plan to launch bids next year, fiscal year ’22, for construction,” Johnson said. “Obviously, this next phase will help us develop a realistic budget, help friends and the foundation to envision fundraising efforts for the coming year. “
Plans for the second floor include space for teens, a revamped tech service area, and meeting rooms for Friends of the Fairhope Library, Johnson said.
Johnson and board members said the job is expected to take around six months.
Dan Stankoski, a board member who served on Fairhope City Council when the library opened in 2007, said supporters have long been hoping for the expansion.
“I was on the board when the library was built and the reason it was built the size it was was to have this extension and now we’ve been looking at it for two to five years and it’s coming up. well on the way it was supposed to do it, ”said Stankoski.
Library supporters and city officials don’t know how much the project will cost. Ann Brooks of engineering firm Mott MacDonald said designs will need to be worked out before a cost estimate can be made.
She said recent changes in construction costs also make it difficult to accurately estimate until all the details of the project have been planned.
Although the library is managed by the board of directors, the facility is owned by the city. Marcus McDowell, city attorney, said the city will need to tender on the project and approve the engineering work.
“You tear up part of a building in town,” McDowell told council members. “You are all in charge of the property, so you have to approve all of this. You have to approve the construction, reengineering, and redesign of everything. I think it’s safer if you just go ahead and go through the city process and do it that way. “
City Councilor Jimmy Conyers, the council’s liaison to the library council, said if library supporters will raise money for the work, the city will also need to provide funds and oversee the work.
“At the moment when we have construction docs coming back to the city to make an offer, because it is a property of the city and it is us who are going to have to intervene and help the library with the funding, it is something that we would need the city council and the mayor to agree to and then fit into their budget, ”said Conyers.
The council also voted on June 14 to approve a replacement air conditioning unit for the library. Council voted to approve the purchase of a York unit at a cost of $ 88,125.25. George Ladd, deputy director of public works, said the other unit being considered, a Trane model, was considered more reliable and quieter.
Council members said, however, that the Trane was also significantly more expensive at a cost of around $ 131,000.