By Rosemary K. Otzman
Design plans are being firmed up for a proposed new library building on the lake.
At its regular meeting on Dec. 10, the Belleville Area District Library Board heard detailed descriptions of three options for the design of the proposed new library building on the DNR site just north of the Belleville Bridge.
Architect Dan Whisler showed the options and explained how the library building would be as close to the lake as possible and the windows would face down the middle of the lake towards Five Points, instead of directly across the lake, for a better view.
Other windows would be in place to the west for patrons to watch the sunsets over the lake. There are lots of windows in all of his designs, including windows so those in the teen room can watch who’s coming and going from Belleville Road, where the main entrance faces.
Whisler discussed the designs for an hour and a half, noting he will be consolidating the three into one favorite building with input from the library board.
That’s when they will be able to estimate how much it will cost.
Whisler will be at the general meeting of the Friends of the Library at 2 p.m., Jan. 25, to show the public his latest sketches and site plans for a proposed new library. The session is called: “New Year – New Library!”
Whisler told the library board at its Dec. 10 meeting that he still didn’t have the topographic information from Spencer Engineers, but he hoped to have it by the end of the week. He said he needs it to start conceptualizing the building.
The details of everything at the library won’t be worked on until voters pass a bond issue, he said. The library question is expected to be on the August ballot.
Whisler planned a two-story building in all three options. The café, audio-visual area, and computers are on the first floor and the adult and teen areas, group study rooms, local history room, and administrative staff on the second floor.
Outside the doors toward the lake, Option A has a fireplace, tiered area, outdoor terrace, and plants on the roof of the entry.
Option B has huge glass windows and group study rooms in glass boxes and a rectangular, angled design down the middle.
Option C has a sunset view over the lake to the west and computers on the first floor and rounded designs.
“I’m in the process of getting feedback,” Whisler said. “By early January, I’ll narrow it down to one preferred design.”
Then, he said, they can put the budget together and get it to the voters. The board is expected to approve language for the ballot in April.
Barbara Miller asked from the audience about whether the site is in the floodplain. She said she called Van Buren Township and was told it was and, “What does being in the floodplain mean?”
She said her house was in the floodplain map that FEMA released last February and it cost her $1,500 to “squeak out” of the floodplain designation.
“My information is that this is not in the floodplain,” Whisler replied. “It touches the floodplain.”
Miller asked if he didn’t think it was imperative to get a commitment about the floodplain information. She said her insurance went from $1,700 a year to $3,000 a year when she was put in the floodplain.
Whisler said when he gets the topographic information from Spicer the floodplain boundary shouldn’t be hard to obtain.
“What I found should raise no alarms,” Whisler said, referring to the site “touching” the floodplain.
Miller asked about how many computers Whisler was designing the new library to hold, stating Canton library has 130.
Whisler said there will be roughly 36 adult computers, 12 in the computer lab, 12 in the teen area, 12 in the children’s area, plus one for every staff work station and short-term usage computers to go online for public access to book catalogues.
Also, he said, in all three options wherever they plan seating they will have electrical outlets for recharging.
In all three designs, the DNR-required restrooms for fisher folk are in the main building close to the lake.
Discussing parking, he said he has 190 spaces on his plans, but a Van Buren Township ordinance requires about 220. He said he will negotiate with the township.
Whisler said at the library board’s next Building Committee meeting, he will make his first stab at the design of the Sumpter Township library site in its community center.
In other business at the more than three-hour meeting on Dec. 10, the board:
• Heard a lengthy report from Susan Kennedy, a consultant hired by the board to do studies of the library district and help the board come up with a mission statement. She suggested: “Our mission: Engage. Empower. Enrich.” This was accepted unanimously by the board and is expected to be used on promotions for the bond/millage election to build a library. She was paid $6,000 for her work;
• Heard Ron Traskos present results of the annual financial audit, with the complete audit report set for the Jan. 14 meeting. He noted, “It’s always good to end the year in the black.” He said he is keeping a running tab of what has been spent on the proposed library and that will be rolled into the bond and reimbursed to the general fund after the bond passes. He also presented a budgetary quarterly report ending Sept. 31, as requested by Treasurer Elaine Gutierrez;
• Heard attorney John Day report that the next step in the library project is for the DNR to find financing for its part of the design. He said the library is doing the design work. He said in January Whisler will have drawings to take to the DNR to talk about funding sources. Also, they will be contacting MDOT for grant money possibilities for a traffic signal. Day said they met with Van Buren Township Downtown Development Authority representatives and they were very receptive and willing to participate in the library project. The DNR would be working on outside amenities “that they can use for additional community assets”;
• Heard Joy Cichewicz report on tours of area libraries made by members of the library board, including libraries in Novi, Redford, and Ferndale. John Juriga reported on the Ypsilanti library on Whittaker Road;
• Approved paying the option payment equal to 2013 taxes for the Spencer property, with $4,468.50 for summer and $2,683.83 for winter, by Dec. 15 as provided in the agreement on the land. The Spencer property is proposed to be part of the library site. The payment came out of the library fund balance;
• Approved an agreement with the Library Network for Download Destination Participating Library service of OverDrive; and
• Approved raising salaries for desk clerks from $9-$11 per hour to $10-$13.50 per hour; custodian from $8-$9 per hour to $9-$10 per hour; and shelving page from $7.40 to $7.40-$8.65 per hour. The board also approved travel reimbursement for employees attending library meetings, plus $50 per day for meals and non-alcoholic beverages.
By Rosemary K. Otzman