A day after the newly remodeled main branch of the Kokomo/Howard County Public Library opened, board members voted to move forward with the expansion of the South Branch facility.
Board members voted 4-2 Monday to move forward with construction of a new Outreach Building to house the Outreach, Collection and Bookmobiles at the South Branch site on Center Road.
The board voted to move forward with the project at a cost range of between $800,000 and $900,000.
Because four votes are needed for adoption of a motion, board president Susan Luttrell voted with Jim Seidel, Mary Baker and Joe Dunbar to move forward with the project. Gil Hendrickson and Tom Trine voted no. Stan Ortman didn’t attend the meeting.
Hendrickson said he was comfortable with an $800,000 budget, but was concerned the amount would be closer to $900,000 if that was the budget being discussed.
Trine said at $800,000, the expansion of the South Branch was the right direction to take.
“At a cost of over $800,000, we should look at other options,” he said.
Seidel said the Feasibility Committee has been discussing how to proceed once an offer to purchase Lincoln School from Kokomo-Center Schools was not accepted.
“Cost was the reason we selected Lincoln School over construction at the South Branch,” he said. “We want to know if cost of an addition could be kept down to $800,000.”
Hendrickson said the committee investigated the inventory of existing buildings in Kokomo and found none that were good candidates to meet the needs of the library system.
Charles Joray, executive director, said architect Mike Montgomery was asked if his architectural company KR Montgomery could construct an addition to the South Branch for $800,000.
Montgomery said the original plan to expand the South Branch was $1 million. He said the cost could be reduced by not finishing the interior of the building, since it wasn’t open to the public.
He said the site work for garage space for the two bookmobiles would not be as expensive. The building would be an open space, no carpeting, an open ceiling and using the existing restrooms.
Montgomery estimated the cost at $956,086 but noted with the current bid environment, the work could be done for an estimated $812,673.
He said from the start of the project to completion would take approximately nine months.
Montgomery said to finish out the space for offices for the two departments and a restroom would cost about $200,000, bringing the estimated cost to $1 million.
Joray asked if the work could be done for $900,000.
Montgomery said that would be possible with some modifications to the proposal.
Hendrickson said the Lincoln School wasn’t perfect and wondered what compromises could be reached to make the cost acceptable to all board members.
Luttrell asked if the cost could be kept at $900,000 with office space, carpeting and a small restroom, would the board approve.
Dunbar said he was happy with the expansion of the South Branch and it would be a good investment of the available funds.
Trine wondered if the board should spend that kind of money in today’s economic climate.
“I’m sure there is a vacant building that can be converted to our use,” he said. “We can find space that meets the needs of these two departments.”
Hendrickson said the future needs of the two departments is an unknown, and the open concept allowing a re-use of the space at the South Branch is attractive.
• Ken de la Bastide is the Kokomo Tribune enterprise editor. He can be reached at 765-454-8580 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org