Latest library design, budget unveiled at Select Board meeting

Aug 9, 2016

The Library Building Committee has tweaked design plans for the new North Dartmouth Library to include changes that would allow for easier building management. The committee presented changes and a budget to the Select Board on August 8.

The committee had adjusted the original design to address privacy concerns at the June meeting, after neighbors of the favored Cross Road location voiced concerns. The new library will replace the North Dartmouth Library currently at 1383 Tucker Road, which is set for demolition during a 2019 project connecting Tucker and Hathaway roads.

The latest updates were recommended by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), the state committee issuing grant monies, said Conrad Ello of Oudens Ello Architecture, the firm designing the new library.

“I believe the refinements we made have actually improved the design and reduced the size of [the library],” Ello said.

The MBLC suggested that the sight lines and distances between core components of the building were too large, said Ello. Service areas are now closer to the front of the building. The change improved sight lines, allowing staff to better see what is going on in all areas of the building from a central point, and will make it easier to manage the building, which includes 13,964 square-feet of usable library space.

A set of quiet study rooms were moved away from the building’s center of the building to open up space, and a hallway that connected the children’s area with a 100-seat multipurpose room was redesigned and enlarged to create a new children’s programming room. Ello said that the MBLC looks favorably at designs that incorporate those types of rooms.

Thirty-four libraries will be applying for the MBLC grants by the January 2017 deadline, and all will receive funding, but it will be on a priority basis. Only 8-10 libraries from around Massachusetts will be funded in the first year. To qualify, the new building must be able to service the town for the next 20 years. The earliest the town would be informed if it received the grant would be July 2017. Even if the project were placed at the top of the MBLC’s grant priority list, construction would not begin until 2019.

Robert Todisco of P3 Project Planning Professionals outlined a preliminary budget for the project—including construction, escalation, furniture and computers, design costs, testing and moving expenses, and project contingencies—and compared project costs for fiscal years 2017-2021 to prove that construction costs rise about five percent each year.

For example, the 2018 total project cost is $10.13 million, said Todisco. If the town received the potential $4.88 million MBLC grant, it would only be responsible for $5.25 million of the project. In a worst-case scenario where the town doesn't receive funding until 2021, the estimate would cost the town $11.2 million, or $5.9 million with the MBLC grant.

Town Administrator David Cressman said that one possible way to raise the needed funds for the project includes a combination of using free cash, putting money away for the project every year, and borrowing.

Dartmouth’s second library, Southworth Library, is located at 732 Dartmouth Street.