Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Library Design Nearing Final Unveiling

Before I go into the latest update, I want to take a moment to update you all on a previous post.  In a previous library update, I incorrectly stated the amounts spent on the preliminary architectural report for sitting the library on 1st Ave and on 2nd Ave.  I stated that the amount spent for 1st Ave was $400,000, this was the wrong information.  This was the budgeted amount for the year we allocated the money to accomplish the project in.  The actual amount spent for 1st Ave was $20,800.  When I know the amount for 2nd Ave's preliminary architectural report, I will update you.  I truly regret the error and apologize for posting the incorrect amounts. It was not my intention to provide incorrect information.

Let's take a look at what is being worked on to get us to the groundbreaking and ultimately to completion of our new library.

The third community meeting is in the record books.  Suggestions have been made, the feedback is in and the architects are..."architecting" away on all the information that came in for the new library.  On February 19th FFA Architecture firm and the city held the final community meeting to provide input on the design of the new library.  There was a lot of dialogue and great questions asked by the largest group yet for these meetings.  With all of the input I am confident that we will be building the best library we can, with the look and amenities that will make it a comfortable place to go and enjoy a good book, study, or browse the stacks.  From here the architects will be refining the design in preparation of showing, I believe, the final look to the Urban Renewal Agency Commissioners very soon.  With a desired late summer/early fall groundbreaking I am sure we will be seeing this as quickly as possible.

Here is the latest on the project.  On the fundraising front, the community volunteers are working very hard to raise the $1 million to support the new library.  Their efforts are paying off!  The Fundraising Committee was recently awarded a $50,000 challenge grant from the Collins Foundation.  This adds to the already growing support they are receiving.  I look forward to reporting more news on this front in the coming months.

While the architects' portion is being finished, I have asked that the council begin discussing soon what the new council chambers will look like.  I'd like to see improved speakers and screens so that everyone can see and hear presentations being given (Also hear the Mayor and Council pontificate about the issues of the day).  More comfortable seating for those sometimes long Planning Commission meetings or when the Council wants to discuss transportation plans and one-way streets...which are not happening anytime soon...maybe...well, never say never.

Here are some pictures of the architectural drawings so far:

Aerial look of the library plan.  Top in Aqua is the Children's Area.  Below that in the lavender will be the the study tables and the Adult Section.  In the plantation green is the teen area with staff work space next to it.  The brown to the left is the Council Chambers/Municipal Court and the light pink at the top is the multi-purpose room.

Front view of the library.

Closer front view.  On the right is the remodeled city hall to become council chambers, center is the main entrance, to the left is the beginning of the multi-purpose room and library collection.

Aerial View of the entire Canby Library upon completion.

Impressive drawings and pictures of what will be a defining element to our downtown.  Stay tuned for more library updates.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The New Canby Library: Where We Stand

Since the posting of this Blog post it has been brought to my attention that some of my information was inaccurate around the financials of the library.  I referenced budgeted numbers as "spent" dollars which is not the case.  They were just that - budgeted.  I apologize for the incorrect reporting on my part.  Here are the correct numbers as provided to me by our Library Director:

  • The total cost of the library is $7.7 million.  With a grant from Clackamas County of $1 million, as part of becoming part of the County Library District, and the $1 million committed to the new library through fundraising efforts the actual cost to the Urban Renewal District is $5.7 million.
  • A preliminary architectural report was developed for the 1st Ave site that actually cost $20,800, not over $400,000 as I reported when this first went out.  According to Ms. Hummel "The purpose of a preliminary architectural report is to determine whether a proposed site is viable for the intended purpose and to provide a very rough layout of the proposed building."
I apologize for any confusion or misrepresentation that this may have caused by posting incorrect financial information around the new library.  I am confident the Architects, Engineers, and Staff will, after all the feedback they have received at the public meetings, deliver a building Canby will be proud of.

Canby is under way on the design and layout of its brand new library.  In fact, we are about to have the 3rd public meeting concerning design coming up on Tuesday February 19th at 6:30pm at our Police Station.

If you recall back about 9 months ago, I made a blog post about my position on the idea of a new library and why I voted 'No' to allocate nearly $8 Million for this project.  You can read the full posting at Urban Renewal Passes the New Library Project: My Statement and a follow up posting at My Vision for the Library.  I will provide as much background as I can on this project and some of the ins-and-outs that have gone on because it is important to lay out the details.

This huge project is a four fold project - 1) renovate the old police station and move city staff there while the new library and council chambers are built.  2) When the new library is complete, the library staff and equipment will move from its old location to the new building.  3) Their old location will be renovated and become the new City Hall and staff will move in there.  4) When all that is complete, the old police station will be demolished and become a parking lot.

I enjoy the library.  From its quiet spaces, to programming, to the number of books we have access to on site as well as those we can transfer in.  Libraries are indeed becoming gathering places for many.  They also can be cultural centers.  The Canby Library did a great workshop recently on the development of downtown.  My kids love going to the library and the park which is right across the street.  I want Canby to have a great library, one that we can be very proud of.  I want to make sure that the plan that is in place, is one that maximizes our valuable tax dollars.

We have had two public meetings so far with a third to come. Each meeting has had more and more people turnout for the meetings which is great to see.  It is nice to see more citizens than city staff and consultants.  The history of this project goes back 4+ years and two mayors ago.  Then, the project was going to be built along 1st Ave in downtown Canby.  This would place the library facing the railroad tracks and a four lane highway that goes through our town.  It was going to be designed as a single floor building.  It was pressed to add an additional half second floor to accommodate city staff so we could consolidate city operations.  The big roadblock then was the collection of properties from two owners - Canby Utility, our public utility, and an office building.  At the time, the desire was to make the entire downtown block a civic block.  With the city acquiring this land, it would mean we would have achieved this. The vote came to approve the allocation of Urban Renewal Funds, and even after the utility company stated that they were not in a position to sell the property and move, the vote went 5-2 to move forward with the design aspects.  Yes I was one of the 'No' votes.  At that point, we had spent $400,000+ on staff time and design drawings for a space that we did not have the land for.  The library did not move past design because we did not have all the land for the project.  That $400,000 was wasted.  Again, this was not what was actually spent.  The amount spent was $20,800.

So fast forward from August 22nd 2012 to now. We have moved the idea of the building to the other side of the block to 2nd ave.  Much of the reasoning is that the city owns this side of the block so we do not have secure anymore property.  The library is going to be one floor instead of two because our Library Director does not want to operate a two floor library for safety reasons and she expressed that it would be difficult to raise funds if the building was more than just a library.  Finally, it is going to be 3,000 sq/ft smaller than the previous design, which is below the size recommendation of the Oregon Library Association.  Based on the projected growth of Canby over the next 30 years, the OLA recommends that the library be 25,500 sq/ft.  Again, we have not addressed the issues from the August meeting, let alone the issues from almost 4 years ago:

  1. We have not secured the land needed for the project.  As of the writing of this, Canby Utility (CU) and the City are working out 1) a land swap that would give the old police location to CU for parking of staff and the City would get the land CU uses currently for parking.  This will give the City the land for the building and for the drive-up book drop that will take them out to 1st Ave. 2) The City needs to purchase land from CU, even with the land swap, to ensure the alley way is wide enough for emergency vehicles to pass. 
  2. It takes the library away from the living room of our downtown which centers around a park that takes up an entire city block.
  3. The building will be placed on city owned property that should be made available for commercial development.  It is of my opinion that 2nd avenue is one of our main streets, that can really develop economically. This helps add to the tax base which we can then use this revenue to build a new library.
  4. We are planning it to be too small to meet our future needs.  We are projected to out grow this new space within 10 years from when we open it and still have 10 years to pay on the debt.
  5. Last year the city moved $70,000 into the library's portion of the budget to be able to meet operation costs.  These were funds that I was in favor of approving. Now, we are planning a new library which will be larger to heat, cool, provide electricity, etc.  With budgets being so tight this next year and in subsequent years, how we meet all our obligations will be under tremendous stress.
  6. My predecessor spoke of "an economic avalanche of activity" from this project.  With a building project like this we should expect a tremendous ripple affect that will affect blocks around it.  I do not think the location on 2nd ave does this.
So let's take a look at what we have so far:
The initial floor plan: top is 2nd ave, Left is Holly.
Light blue at the top is the  Children's section.
The pink area to the left of the Children's Area will be a multi-purpose room
and the brown on the left along Holly will be Council Chambers.

Aerial shot.  Right to Left - Council Chambers in existing City Hall Building.
Entry way in the middle moving to multi-purpose room
then to the larger area of the book stacks and study tables.

Street level shot

This is a street level look of the corner of Ivy and 2nd Ave.
Not pictured will be the additional plants needed, bike racks,
and bollards needed for safety.

Proposed ceiling beam design.  Skylights with steel support beams.  Height is that of a story
and a half.  Designed to bring a lot of natural light.  1st meeting
designers had commented about challenges of sky lights

These are another option of steel  supports that were presented

An all wood ceiling option.  This design is a laminate wood
with steel supports.
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