March 25, 2010 12:00 PM
In April and May the Library Board and the City Council will be asked to approve the new direction for a new Central Library on the current site. Some have asked if we shouldn't start over in looking for another site, which would add at least a year to the process and put ground breaking off to 2013 at the earliest.
I am a strong advocate for moving forward on our current site now because we can still take advantage of some of the best construction bids in memory, and construction workers need the jobs. Can anyone predict the environment for costs and jobs in three years? In addition, I don't think we can find a better site than the one we already own on the corner of Mifflin and Fairchild.
So, we should move ahead now with the building of a new library on the current site for six reasons:
First, it will be several million dollars less expensive than the $37 million we have budgeted.
Second, we'll get about a third more space for less money.
Third, it can be completed 12 to 24 months sooner than the project on West Washington.
Fourth, it will be the greenest of buildings because we will be reusing the superstructure of the building.
Fifth, it will require maybe half of the private fundraising that we were counting on for the earlier project.
Sixth, it should be less expensive to operate because staff can be more efficient on three floors instead of six.
Of course some of us were disappointed that the original idea didn't work out, but I'm as excited about this complete reimagining of the Central Library on the current site as I am about any project in the city.