Library improvements pass first step with city council

The first step in implementing $300,000 in improvements to West University’s 53-year-old Library was accomplished Monday at the city council meeting.

At that meeting, the council voted unanimously to give the city manager and staff authority to solicit bids for the aforementioned $300,000 in library improvements.

The ball is now in the hands of the city manager and the staff as they prepare the plans and seek construction bids.

The $300,000 was previously appropriated in the 2016 Budget to remedy life and safety deficiencies in the library. During the meeting, Dave Beach, the city’s public works director, said city staff and the city’s fire marshal performed a walkthrough in which they identified what improvements need to be made.

They are as follows:

  • Install a second floor fire escape
  • Replace handrails with guardrails
  • Install a fire alarm system
  • Install a sprinkler system
  • Replace the two existing restrooms with ADA Compliant Restrooms
  • Install Panic Hardware on doors (Push handle doors)
  • Install exit signs

Council member Brennan Reilly raised a concern, asking if city staff is confident these are the improvements that need to be taken care of and, “these are the only items and it’s not gonna turn from $300,000 into $600,000.”

Beach responded saying he was confident, “from a life safety” perspective. Additionally, Beach said, numerous visits were made to the library.

“It basically looked at, ‘if you were to have that facility in today’s code, what would you be required to put in there,” said Beach. To back-up the library improvements, the city’s fire marshall wrote a report covering the items.

The more pressing question from council was to determine just how long it would take to complete the library improvements.

“It’s all going to depend on the contractors,” said Beach, who added that the would prefer to have a single contractor to complete it as quick as possible. The director gave a timeline of two to three months to complete it.

“When we talk about time frame, if we were to close the facility completely, obviously we’ll get it done quicker,” said Beach. “Scheduling around library services, and this account for pricing, if we’re looking at solely at night, there could be some cost increases.”

It is estimated that the work will have impact on the usable square footage for library services. For example, enlarging the restrooms will require approximately 100-125 square feet from the main areas. The $300,000 in possible improvements were estimated with the following assumptions.

  • Library District services would not impede the construction of the improvements. There would be frequent closures as required or possible complete suspension of services during the work.
  • The Library District would be not be responsible for their costs associated with relocating their shelves, books and staff.
  • If services were to remain in operation, there would be no bathroom available in the building during the work.

Ultimately, Beach said a true timeline can be better established once a contractor has been hired. At that point, the city staff and contractor will, “define a game plan, that hopefully will impact library services the least,” said Beach.

Once the city has chosen the contractor, the contract agreement will be brought to city council for approval.