Archive for Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Library repairs could cost nearly $1 million

New reports show that the Lawrence Public Library needs more than $500,000 in repairs. Three engineering reports found that the entire roof and major parts of the heating and cooling system need to be replaced.

December 23, 2008


The Lawrence Public Library likely will need upward of $1 million worth of repairs to replace a deteriorating roof and an antiquated heating and cooling system.

Library director Bruce Flanders has begun sharing engineering reports with City Hall leaders that show that the 36-year-old library building is going to need major repairs sooner rather than later.

“From the library’s perspective, these repairs are not only a matter of protecting the integrity of the building but also the integrity of the collections,” Flanders said.

Finding money within the city’s budget, however, could be a challenge. The problems came to light after city commissioners created their budget for 2009. City Manager David Corliss said that may mean the project will have to wait until 2010.

“I believe it will be one of the important budget considerations for the 2010 budget,” Corliss said. “How important it is versus some other items will be up to the commission, but I do think it is very important to maintain the facilities that we have.”

Flanders said he understands the city’s budget situation. He said waiting until 2010 may work — or it may not.

“In a way, it is a roll of the dice,” Flanders said. “All the engineering reports we’ve received have said the roof is worn out.”

Library leaders have had two engineering reports conducted regarding the roof. A report in June recommended that the entire roof be replaced, but said the roof potentially could last for another five years before creating major problems. But that report also suggested that infrared testing devices be used to gauge the condition of concrete underneath the roof.

In October, the library had that testing performed and brought in a second set of engineers and architects to examine the roof. That report recommended a more immediate replacement.

“It is basically still holding together, but the longer we put it off, the greater the chances are that we’ll have a catastrophic leak,” Flanders said.

The first report estimated it would cost about $300,000 to replace the approximately 20,000-square-foot roof. The second report estimated the cost at closer to $500,000.

The roof last had major work done on it in 1978, Flanders said.

In addition to the roof, engineers urged replacement of three heating and cooling units on top of the roof. The units were installed new in the building in 1972.

“That’s a testament to the extraordinary quality of that equipment, but it is just at the end of its life,” Flanders said.

Engineers estimate that it will cost $342,000 to replace those units.

The report also recommends replacing three air-handling units in the basement of the building at a cost of $230,000.

Flanders said the fact the library board is asking the city to invest the money in the building is another sign that library leaders believe the building will be the long-term home for the library. Within the last two years, library leaders made a major push to win approval for a new “destination” library to be built elsewhere downtown. City commissioners, though, ultimately balked at the multimillion-dollar project.

“If we sink $500,000 to $1 million into this building, we would view that as a commitment on the part of the city and the taxpayers to maintain this building as the primary library building for at least the coming decade,” Flanders said.


justaverage 9 years, 3 months ago

Sounds like they would rather demolish the current building and build a new one. Let me see, $1 million or $30+++ million, which is more cost effective? Heck, the next time I need to replace the roof, heating system or AC system at my house, I'll just tear it down and build a "destination" house somewhere else.

TacoBob 9 years, 3 months ago

It is what it is. No major repairs since 1978 is fantastic for ROI, wish this was the case in other situations.Don't shoot the piano player, he didn't write the song.

hipper_than_hip 9 years, 3 months ago

Lots of people use the library, so it's a good investment.

BigPrune 9 years, 3 months ago

The cost of replacing the roof seems astronomical and the HVAC systems, ridiculous. $300,000 /20,000 sq. ft. = $15 per sq. ft. That seems incredibly excessive. $500,000/20,000 sq. ft. = $25 per sq. ft. Again, too excessive and why is it almost double the price? They must be replacing the concrete??? I sure hope the engineers and architects weren't paid for their assessment. Is there some structural issues with the roof? Is this why the engineers and architects had to get involved? It's just a flat roof isn't it?The HVAC system costs - what are they replacing all the duct work too? Those costs seem incredibly high as well. Is anyone with the city asking questions as to why the high cost?We deserve some answers.

deskboy04 9 years, 3 months ago

Bruce Flanders always wants more money.

LogicMan 9 years, 3 months ago

Would adding another story or two to the existing building be "easy"? If so, replacing the roof and HVAC systems in the near term isn't so wise. A new brush/spray-on roof top coating (is cheap) in the late spring would be appropriate.

thoughtpolice 9 years, 3 months ago

I agree with TacoBob. The city hasn't had to put a lot of money into the existing facility, which is clearly showing its age. Replacing the roof and HVAC system (which is the original equipment from 1972) doesn't seem unreasonable given that it is 36 years old. The city also needs to consider replacing carpet and doing some relatively inexpensive upgrades that could extend the life of the existing facility. As a taxpayer, I'm willing to invest $2m to avoid a $30m investment in a new building. By the way, DonQuipunch, what dark recess of your imagination did $80m come from? The cost quoted for a new library facility was $20m plus a parking structure costing $10m. Those are the facts, although I'll admit that those costs have probably gone up in the last few years. But $80m? You are dreaming.In addition, the economic situation has resulted in an increased use of public libraries. Our library needs some investment in order to continue to meet the needs of the community. A decent roof and updated HVAC system isn't unreasonable under the circumstances.BigPrune, what are your qualifications regarding the cost of roof and HVAC? Are you a real expert or simply one in your own mind? If you truly have expertise, you should consider volunteering it to the library to help Mr. Flanders and the Board make more informed choices regarding these costs. The Board meetings are public.

Sharon Aikins 9 years, 3 months ago

If the heating /AC units are the originals from 1972 as it indicates here, one would expect to replace them, even before now. I am assuming there has been regular maintainance on the roof, even a new one in that length of time as well. Yes, money is tight now but these are not unexpected repairs. The price seems high but then, this is a large building and I'm not familiar with these costs. It's still a lot cheaper than building a new one, which I suspect this is all leading up to.

West_Sider 9 years, 3 months ago

Here is a thought:Spend the million on fixing up the current library so that the homeless people can continue to have a place to sleep off their hangovers, check their email, and soak up the A/C or heat. But, spend an extra couple million and create a new library annex in the old grocery store at 25th and Iowa (next door to the office depot). I imagine you could buy the property for a song as its been empty for a coons age and with Walmart, Dillons and Target are all within walking distance so I don't see another grocer moving into the space anytime in the near future. But, this is a perfect location for a library annex. Its got great parking, its on the bus route, and is the space is big eneough to accomodate all the sections that it would need to have. I am not suggesting that it become the new main library but it could take some of the load off of the downtown library.Just my .02 - West_Sider

justaverage 9 years, 3 months ago

The city could pay for the repairs to the existing library building with the money they lose each year operating the "T".

yellowhouse 9 years, 3 months ago

It is obvious this City is not broke! This city pours Millions of dollars into long baseless investigations and frivolous prosecutions..I do not beleive for one minute there is a budget crises in this City. Perhaps the City commissioners should have a bake sale, and fund raising garage sale.

eotw33 9 years, 3 months ago

why doesn't every one on this blog just run the project, you all seem to be experianced engineers and city council members

flux 9 years, 3 months ago

OMG! They had to replace their help with small chinese children

Leslie Swearingen 9 years, 3 months ago

yellowhouse, I am delighted the way you get your personal situation into every subject. Hey, I do the same myself. Are the powers that be not doing routine maintenance on public buildings or infrastructure, but waiting until they literally fall down before something is done?

SMe 9 years, 3 months ago

What's the level of quality of the proposed new equipment? State of the Art Ultra High Efficiency a dolop of performance improvement for any cost? Or a reasonably sized, adequate level of performance system?Good gosh folks the economy is in the tank - is there no way (or one) to negotiate for better pricing or do the purchasing folks in this town just take the engineer's estimate and say, "Here ya go. Build me a HVAC system?"Somebody needs to thoroughly review the proposed "improvements" (actually maintenance that should've been done in stages) and issue a report understandable by the general citizenry of the quality, etc. level of the work and possible cost savings. It's time to start going "green." Is there something that can be done in the repair of the roof to take some of the load off the HVAC unit? Etc., etc., ad infinitum ad nauseum!We don't need no steenking new Library. We need to take care of the one we have and make it less expensive to operate as we "repair" it.

thoughtpolice 9 years, 3 months ago

West Sider says: "But, spend an extra couple million and create a new library annex in the old grocery store at 25th and Iowa (next door to the office depot). I imagine you could buy the property for a song as its been empty for a coons age and with Walmart, Dillons and Target are all within walking distance so I don't see another grocer moving into the space anytime in the near future. But, this is a perfect location for a library annex. Its got great parking, its on the bus route, and is the space is big eneough to accomodate all the sections that it would need to have. I am not suggesting that it become the new main library but it could take some of the load off of the downtown library."We don't need a library annex. The library should remain a keystone of the downtown area. Diluting resources by starting up an annex is not the answer.Also, you might want to rethink the use of the term "coon's age".

West_Sider 9 years, 3 months ago

Thoughtpolice says: You might want to rethink the use of the term “coon's age”.From: Where does the expression "coon's age" originate? Is it a racial reference or does it actually pertain to raccoons? It actually refers to raccoons. The expression "in a coon's age" dates to the early 1800s, and to the folk belief that raccoons are long-lived. My pal Colibri of the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board says, "References differ, but a wild individual raccoon might live up to 5 to 7 years (average survival being much lower, though, probably 2-3 years), and in captivity they can live up to 14-17 years. So their lifespan is comparable to that of a dog." In the early 1800s, it's doubtful if anyone knew how long raccoons actually lived, and two to three years in the wild is not really very long. But raccoon fur is hardy and reasonably durable, which might have given rise to the belief of longevity. Please, get a life (and figure out how to use Google to seach for words or terms that you don't understand).

stevieags 9 years, 3 months ago

Convert the library into a homeless shelter it's basically serves as one now. The library is a valuable asset and we need a bigger and better one. Yes its going to cost money. Ok it's going to cost a lot of money. It will be a extremely good investment. Johnson County has done it, Why can't we? If we need to create a special downtown tax or city tax to do it so be it. All of a sudden these repairs are deemed as being urgent. I got news for you that's why happens when things get old. The current library is too small to accomodate the Lawrence community. We need a new director that can provide direction.

Sean Livingstone 9 years, 3 months ago

Again, the noise from the "Anti-everything" seems to be the loudest. We used to hear from this group who simply didn't want a public transport here in Lawrence, just because they didn't use it. Now, the same group now goes against the library just because they don't use it. I don't use the library as much (I buy most of my books and keep them), but I think any city with a brain should have a public library. We ain't a third world country where we cannot afford to store knowledge in some place so that everyone has the access to knowledge. Knowledge is the fundamental of our society. Love and care are the foundations to make our society better. If we need to expand our library, so be it. If we need maintain our library, go ahead to spent the money. Stop worrying about $1 million or $33 million. This is good investment compared to the $700 billion bailout.

justaverage 9 years, 3 months ago

Repair the current building as required. If more space is needed for books, do away with the big meeting room and gallery on the main level. Maybe we could use the old library at 9th and Vermont as a meeting space and additional office space for the library staff. Perhaps make the old library a children's library. It served the Lawence Arts Center well for many years. Consider using the abandoned fire station on Lawrence Avenue as a satellite library. Every public building (which is owned by the taxpayers by the way) should be on a maintenance schedule that is reviewed annually. The attitude by local, state and federal government agencies is and has been for years that "nothing is too good for the taxpayer".Tax dollars are NOT an infinite source of revenue!For an example of out of control spending in Kansas, one needs only to look at the outrageous spending spree taking place at the Kansas Statehouse. That project started out to be a 40 - 50 million dollar renovation project, now it appears it will cost closer to $200 million due to the add ons of an underground parking garage and visitors center. I am for a good library in Lawrence, but I'm tired of the "just throw money at it" approach that seems to take place at all levels of government. Some of you out there need to examine your real estate taxes, property taxes, sales taxes and income taxes if you don't think I'm on the right track with regard to cavalier government spending.

Mark Currie 9 years, 3 months ago

Surley the Federal Government will step in and bail out our failing library.

Godot 9 years, 3 months ago

The usual process for determining the cost of a project is to let out bids and to award the work to the bidder with the lowest cost. Way to go, Flannery, spend precious dollars on consultants and then publicize their cost estimates. Now the contractors know how high they can bid.

BigPrune 9 years, 3 months ago

thoughtpolice,I am more qualified than you know and if I were to tip my hand then some might be able to figure out who I am and I would no longer be anonymous.The roof is 20,000 sq. ft. for crying out loud. NOT a very large roof.

TacoBob 9 years, 2 months ago

Godot, it's best practice to bring in engineers to survey the situation and get a clear picture of what needs to be done. You can then only bid out the work necessary. Hold your contractors to cost-plus if you like, but always make them do the work in an open book fashion. Knowing the estimated costs before bidding does not give the contractors free reign to charge some inflated amount. Investing in expert fact finding can you money and usually does. In this competitive economy, business WILL compete, and the city should drive a hard bargain. And per Hawk's point, use outside companies if that saves money. If the locals can't compete, so be it.

Sean Livingstone 9 years, 2 months ago

"eugunieum (Anonymous) says…Surley the Federal Government will step in and bail out our failing library."Something worth bailing out, some other things are not worth bailing out. Some things lie to us in order to get the money for bailing out themselves, but in fact, they used the money to keep themselve profitable. Forgive me, library and knowledge are both worth bailing out. $1 million for 30 years is much more worth it. Everyone forget that the contract will most likely be given to a local contractor, or at least someone from Kansas City. This $1 million will be multiplied and thus generate more businesses. Has anyone forgotten about the effects of multiplier? Bailing out banks get us to nowhere. Nothing is being build, no one gets the money... so how can we expand the economy?

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