Phase 2 funding in place for library preservation project
Work will close Old Town facility for half a year
The good news is that the Old Colorado City Branch Library will implement Phase 2 of its Carnegie building preservation project next year.
The bad news is that the library will have to be closed during the six months that the $809,000 interior reconstruction is expected to last, Branch Manager Julianne Rist said in an interview this week.
She added, however, that Westside library services will not completely disappear; during the closure, she plans twice-a-week Book-mobile visits and nearby relocations (sites not yet determined) of popular library programs.
Phase 2 will replace the 102-year-old building's heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing systems and improve equipment and space usage on the main level and lower floor.
“We're very pleased with how the project is going,” Rist said. “We're happy to see it moving forward and to know we'll have the building ready for a second century of service.”
A vote of approval by the Pikes Peak Library District Board of Trustees Dec. 4 allows $809,000 to be spent on the project and G.E. Johnson - which oversaw most of Phase 1 - to be hired as the general contractor.
Rist said a more exact construction start date cannot be given at this time because it is not certain if the district's plans can be submitted to the Regional Building Department by the end of this month (as hoped), nor how long Regional will need to review them before issuing a building permit. The average time frame for Regional's review is 7 to 10 weeks, she said. Thus, the project could conceivably start as early as February.
The six-month building time frame depends on different factors as well. It could be shorter or longer, depending on weather and other factors, and there is also the possiblity the library could reopen before the finish work is done - as was the case with the new Fountain Branch Library. However, to do so it would have to pass electrical, plumbing and fire inspections, Rist said.
Previously, she had hoped the library would only have to close for a few weeks - working around the construction the rest of the time - but the contractor has explained that the extensiveness of the work will require closure for most if not all of the project.
During the shutdown, the branch employees will work on the Old Colorado City Bookmobile or temporarily be assigned to other library branches, Rist said.
To bring Phase 2 to reality, district staff had to overcome two key monetary obstacles - paying for the work and coping with inflation.
With no district construction money budgeted, there has been an ongoing fund-raising effort, including grant applications, special events and donation appeals. A $250,000 grant arrived this year from the State Historical Fund; other money came in recently from the Coors Foundation ($25,000) and the library's “Alice in Wonderland” fund-raising event ($18,000). In a final move that allows the project to begin, the district board has allowed $250,000 to be borrowed from district endowment that is used as a trust fund. Fund-raising, to include repayment of that sum, is continuing, Rist said.
As for inflation, when the project was priced about a year ago, materials were more than 10 percent cheaper on average than they are now, meaning that $782,000 (the estimate at the time) would have bought more than the present $809,000. Rist said that to make the project work with present dollars, “some value engineering” had to occur. This chiefly involved rerouting electrical lines and heating/cooling ductwork and downscaling the elevator plans.
Instead of a room-like elevator between the main floor and basement, the library will now have a “vertical platform lift” (the manufacturer's name is “Wheel-O- Vator”) which serves the same function but has a transparent plexiglass exterior, Rist explained.
The electrical and ducting changes are requiring revisions of the plans for the lower level that must be submitted to Regional Building. The changes will not change the previously planned increase in meeting room space, Rist said.
Phase 1, completed last year, involved structural stabilization, as well as brickwork, windows, doors and steps. Phase 3, the final part of the project, will improve outside landscaping and the parking lot.
The total expected project cost is about $1.4 million.
Phase 1 was also aided by a grant from the State Historical Fund, which is administered through the non-profit Colorado Historical Society.
Westside Pioneer article