By Rosemary K. Otzman
Members of the Belleville Area District Library Board’s Building Committee met last Friday and then again Wednesday to try to whittle down a $21.8 million estimated construction budget so it will be sellable to the voters in the August primary election.
On Friday, the more than six-hour meeting was attended by library Building Committee chairwoman Joy Cichewicz; committee members Michael Boelter and John Juriga; library board president Mary Jane Dawson; architect Daniel Whisler; library director Deb Green; and library deputy director Mary Jo Suchy.
Also attending for most of the six hours were members of the public: Barbara Miller, Phillip Miller, Diane Madigan, Paul White, and the Independent.
Yesterday’s meeting was after the Independent went on the presses for the week, so there is no report on what was accomplished there.
The committee’s report is expected at the March 11 library board meeting. The board wanted to have the figures ready to be voted on at the April 8 meeting, but may have to a special board meeting so the ballot language can be approved in April for the August election, as required.
Eleven pages called “Opinion of Probable Construction Costs” was distributed by architect Whisler, who led the meeting on Friday aimed at cutting the total figure down to something the board would approve.
The proposed bond amount of $21,772,763 was shown on the front of the draft, with “Affiliated Project Costs by Others” beneath, showing $1,011,203 expected from the Department of Natural Resources, plus an amount to be determined by the Van Buren Township Downtown Development Authority and others for on-site and off-site enhancements.
But, Whisler said the DNR has informed them they would be putting in a gravel trail not asphalt along the lake and has questions about the toilet facilities. Fisher folk may have to come in the library front door to use the library toilets, he said.
No final decisions were made on anything, but here are some of the things discussed:
• The size: Whisler said the size is designed at 49,000 square feet, when it was supposed to be 45,000. He said it could be reduced totally by putting the plan on a photocopy machine and reducing. A size of 40,000 square feet was suggested but Dawson put down her foot: no smaller than 45,000. Whisler said his figures are based on $195 per square foot in basic construction cost and he presented a list of libraries and their construction costs for comparison;
• Sidewalks: Van Buren Township’s Director of Planning and Economic Development Arthur Mullen reportedly suggested they widen the sidewalk to 8-10 feet down to the bridge and in the future up Quirk Road to the I-94 overpass. The VBT DDA, who may pay for this amenity for bikers and walkers, has invited the architect back in March;
• New furnishings: They are assuming all the furnishings at the new library building on the DNR site will be new. There were suggestions to use some of the furniture at the present site and some of the shelving at the present site at the satellite site being planned for Sumpter;
• Bond cost: Philip Miller pointed out that a $21.8 million bond would cost more than twice that to taxpayers once the interest payments are included. Whisler said most library bonds are 20 years. It is expected the library would be paying 5.5% interest on the bonds. He expects there will be one year in planning after the bonds are approved by voters, and 18 months in construction. Whisler said for a $15 million bond, taxpayers have to borrow and pay back $40 million. He said, “Borrowing cost money”;
• What to cut? There was general agreement that the vegetative roofs could be cut and the number of terraces reduced, but the geothermal system would save money, so keep that. Seventy wells four inches in diameter and 400 feet deep have to be drilled for geothermal. They also agreed tentatively to cut out the $43,125 emergency generator for the geothermal system. It was generally agreed the electrical vehicle charging station in the parking lot could be cut as well as the public address system. An expected expensive sewer lift station is not needed because they will be using a forced main and grinder pumps at a cost of $6,000.
More changes are sure to be made at the March 5 meeting before the presentation to the board at 7 p.m. March 11 regular meeting, which is open to the public.
By Rosemary K. Otzman