December 13, 2016
The newest potential cost of expanding Carroll’s library and City Hall:
Several of Carroll’s City Council members experienced a bit of sticker shock when Joe Feldmann, a project architect with OPN Architects in Des Moines, presented the estimated cost of plans to overhaul both the Farner Government Building and the Commercial Savings Bank building — which was given to the city to expand and improve the Carroll Public Library and City Hall.
But then they broke it down a bit more.
About $1 million is automatically saved in any project moving forward because of the gift of the bank building — council members otherwise would have been looking at an $8 million estimate.
And of the proposed construction costs, about 60 percent are for the library renovations and expansions — the remaining dollars would go toward City Hall improvements.
It’s feasible, Councilwoman Carolyn Siemann said.
The price was a bit of a surprise, she said, but not completely unexpected.
“We’re seeing high numbers for all our projects,” she said. “We have to deal with reality.”
Meanwhile, key library advocates this morning were at work discussing ways to potentially shave costs.
Feldmann presented two options to the council that utilized the Farner Government Building and the bank building. Both included a range of price estimates based on when the projects were completed and how each building was furnished. Both plans involve building an addition for the library at whichever location houses it, allowing for more program space and a larger children’s area.
“Concept A” involves keeping the library where it is, expanding it within the space that currently houses city offices, and moving City Hall to the bank building.
The price estimate for the first concept, according to estimates, ranges from $7.1 million to $7.6 million.
“Concept B” involves expanding the city offices where they are and moving the library to the bank building.
The price estimate for the second concept ranges from about $7 million to $7.5 million.
“We feel both options can be very successful,” Feldmann said. “Architects are optimistic in nature, and I feel either way you’re going to get a new library space that will dramatically change the use in this community, as well as make City Hall services a bit (better).”
However, Feldmann added, he believes expanding the library at its current location is the best choice, for several reasons. He and others have heard from residents that they want the library to remain there, he noted. If the library were to move to the bank building, the building addition the plan includes would take up the bank building’s current parking space.
The option also allows for more windows in the children’s area at the library, Feldmann added.
Both plans include construction cost estimates of about $5.6 million, with additional design fees, testing costs and furnishing and shelving costs bringing the total estimates up to the $7 million range.
Siemann said she doesn’t want council to lose its momentum, and that council members should discuss the project’s feasibility and decide if there are ways to lower the total cost in the coming weeks and months.
The city is required to seek a public vote when going into debt greater than $700,000, Siemann said. A library bond issue would not address the entire price tag; it would involve the remaining costs after the $700,000 and the money fundraised for the project.
“We can’t gloss over the numbers,” Siemann said. “We have to decide, how are we going to raise the money, get the funding and make it work?
“Because we have to make it work.”
The gift of the bank building was ultimately what made the project possible, she said, noting the importance of expanding the library’s program space, particularly for kids’ resources and programs.
“I definitely think we need to work as hard as we can to have this succeed,” she said.
In other news, the council:
— Approved the appointment of the Carroll Volunteer Fire Department’s 2017 officers.
— Approved a contract to continue environmental testing at an alley near Walgreens.
— Approved the city’s receipt of a REAP Grant totaling $122,218 from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
— Created an aquatic and fitness specialist position at the Carroll Recreation Center, with a salary ranging from $16.75–$22.33 an hour.
— Received Library Director Brandie Ledford’s final annual report, days before her work at the library is complete.
— Accepted Councilman Brandon Vonnahme’s resignation due to his family’s move outside the city limits.