Friday, February 26, 1999
Library trustees say costs can't be cut, could rise
Just when FinCom thought that no more dollar signs would fit in the Clark Room on February 11, up stepped the Gleason Library building committee. Chair Sally Swift introduced Ed Sonn, who recently joined the group after participating in the Town Hall and Saint Irene Church building projects. Swift was not willing to back off from their recent $400,000 increase in building costs, but asked for the opportunity to explain. "Tell us," sighed chairman Parker.
Swift said that the new library was first proposed as part of a long-range planning study in 1992. The round-one grant application in 1995 was not approved. The round-two application in 1996 was approved, but the state had no money. In 1998, the state had money for only ten applications and Carlisle was number seven on the list. "The $919,000 in state grant money was awarded based on 1996 costs," emphasized Swift. "The state does not add inflation. In 1996, we estimated that the state and town would share costs on a 50-50 basis."
Recent estimates place the total cost of the new library at $2,700,000, an increase of $400,000 over last year's numbers when the grant was announced. Swift cited various reasons for the increase, including site prep, new computers, moving and storage, and a "hot" building market. Final bids will be opened on March 26 at noon, prior to the April 7 Special Town Meeting vote. "The final numbers might be worse," warned Swift.
Member Phil Conti asked if the new library will sit on the same footprint. "No, it's a little wider," said Swift. The new building will have two floors with a total of 7,600 square feet. The existing building has 3,500. Combined with the old Gleason library building with 4,400 square feet, the new facility will end up with 12,000 square feet of library space.
Parker asked Sonn, "How comfortable are you with the present numbers?" Sonn estimated that building costs are now running about $250 per square foot. "With 12,000 square feet, that comes to about $3 million," he said, "but the only estimate that counts is the low bid." Sonn recalled that when Town Hall bids came in higher than expected, they were able to halt the process and make cost-saving design changes. The library does not have that option because the state grant offer expires this spring.
"Well, it looks like 50-50 can't be done," concluded Parker. Present estimates place the town's contribution at $1.4 million, combined with $360,000 in private funds. "Everything will be put on the table at Town Meeting so people will have all the information they need about the override."
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito