Updated cost analysis identifies purchases that could be delayed if donation pledges not yet in the bank and additions to the project fundraising exceeds goal.
By Deborah Bunka
(June 25, 2012 – 9:30 a.m.) The Ames Public Library Board of Trustees announced Thursday that they are in negotiation with the owner of the building that formerly housed Hasting Books, Music & Video and Harrison Sports in the Lincoln Center Plaza, 620 Lincoln Way.
The location would serve as a temporary home while the current library building undergoes extensive renovations for what is expected to be a period of 18 months to two years. The combined area of these sites is approximately 20,000 square feet, much less than the library currently occupies. The Board however, felt the Lincoln Center was the most suitable location that could be found.
While tentative plans have collections housed in the former Hastings building, library staff would work in the much smaller former sports equipment store. Asked how such a small space would accommodate present library staff, Ames Public Library administrative assistant Karen Thompson said that likely only part of the staff would work at Lincoln Center. The remainder of the staff will move to an as yet unidentified location.
There will be no layoffs, said Thompson, but there could be fewer staff working in the temporary location due to attrition from retirements and resignations.
Brad Heemstra with Integrity Construction is serving as construction advisor to the project. He reported that he had met with library staff to identify space priorities. “We looked at what is needed and what is available in Ames. This space ranked the highest.”
Heemstra reported that contact had been made with the realtor and negotiations were underway. On a lighter note, he added that they were lucky because a book had just been published on how to move a library. This remark brought laughter from the staff present in the audience.
Outgoing board president Dudley Luckett reported that he had signed a non-binding letter of intent that was sent to the property owner. Upon it’s return, the entire board of trustees would vote on the agreement. If approved, the lease would then be forwarded to Ames City Council.
“It is city money being spent and we must have their approval,” he said. Luckett also added, “It is the best space we could find. We were doubtful we could get it but it’s turned out well, or at least we think so. Nothing is finished until it’s finished.”
After a detailed oral and visual presentation of the $20 million renovation plan by representatives from the architectural firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, the board voted unanimously to accept the plan as presented. The public can view the designs online at the APL website www.amespubliclibrary.org.
“We’re in a new era, that begins with this fabulous new building,” trustee Al Campbell said, “There is excitement in the air and we are on our way to doing something important and significant in Ames.”
Heemstra also offered a project cost summary that included areas where spending might further be cut or increased depending on available funding.
The updated cost summary addressed the concerns of city manager Steve Schainker who, in a May 15 memo to now former library director Art Weeks, expressed his concern that the library's trustees needed to confirm more financial pledges in order to secure a financial commitment from the Ames City Council. According to the summary provided by Heemstra at Thursday’s meeting, of the $627,000 raised to date, $470,966 has been pledged but not received. Schainker’s concerns were outlined in a May 21, 2012 article by Ames News Online.
“This information is critical because once the City Council has made a financial commitment to the project, it must be honored, even if monies from all the pledges are not received.”
He added that the council would need to either further reduce project costs or “agree to proceed with the hope that all of the pledges would be fulfilled in the coming years.”
However, Heemstra said that at this point, “the project scope matches the secure funds.” Incoming board president Kevin Stow acknowledged in a follow-up interview that the library has a different kind of campaign than Schainker has dealt with in the past.
“Other groups have had the money upfront, before ground was broken. We have three-year pledges but we have the funds to manage costs upfront. We also have plenty of contingencies in the budget.”
He cited the ordering of furniture as one example of a cost that can delayed. He also says that the bid process may further alleviate budget concerns. “Bids will be submitted by November and given that the economy is so favorable, they may come in low.”
Stow also added that fundraising continues. With the “quiet phase” now complete, a mass public campaign will kick-off in late August or September of this year. Asked whether he believes all financial obligations will be met, he says,” I feel confident that they will. Absolutely!”
In other library business, the Trustees elected three new executive officers to replace members whose board terms expire July 1. Stow replaces Luckett as president. Campbell was elected vice president and Laura Rawlins replaces outgoing secretary Sherry Meier.
It was also announced that library Assistant Director Lynne Carey is the new interim director until a replacement can be hired for retiring Director Art Weeks, who officially resigned via email on Tuesday, June 19.