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Archive for Monday, January 25, 2010

Lawrence City Commission to consider construction bid to renovate old Carnegie Library

Construction plans are in the works for the old library at Ninth and Vermont streets. Bids will be presented for approval on Tuesday.

January 25, 2010

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The architect's rendering of the proposed renovations to the former Carnegie Library building.

The architect's rendering of the proposed renovations to the former Carnegie Library building.

For $1.4 million, the old Carnegie Library may become a focal point of downtown Lawrence again.

City commissioners on Tuesday will consider accepting a $1.4 million construction bid to make the 107-year old building at Ninth and Vermont streets accessible to people with disabilities so that it can be used as a public meeting place and as offices for the city’s convention and visitors bureau.

“I’m excited about moving forward on it,” Mayor Rob Chestnut said. “I think that building really represents one of the more important historic structures in the city.”

The project involves adding 2,000 square feet to the building — in a portion of an adjacent city parking lot — to primarily house restrooms and an elevator.

Once work is completed — perhaps in about six months — the basement level of the building could be used as offices for the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau and as the headquarters for the new Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area. The main floor would become new space for Lawrence Parks and Recreation to rent out for receptions, or to use for classes such as aerobics, dance or other programs that have grown in recent years.

“We think it could be a boost for downtown,” said Ernie Shaw, the city’s interim director of parks and recreation. “It will be just a block away from Mass. Street.”

Shaw said he thinks the space has a lot of potential for wedding receptions and various reunions, much like the city-operated Union Pacific Depot site in North Lawrence. But the new Carnegie space will be about twice as large and will be able to host events of about 150 people.

“We probably turn away about 100 events a year from the depot because it isn’t large enough,” Shaw said.

Chestnut said he’s also supportive of the project because it gives the national heritage area the space it needs to begin growing its programing and fundraising efforts.

The project to revamp the Carnegie — which has been vacant since the Lawrence Arts Center moved from the building in 2002 — has been in the works for more than two years.

Chestnut, though, said the project now may become a reality because the city has identified a source of funding for the renovations. As part of the 2010 budget, commissioners approved a 1 percent increase in the city’s guest tax. That increase will generate $500,000 over 10 years. A previous city commission had set aside about $450,000 for the project, and the city also has about $100,000 from a previously awarded federal grant. The remainder of the money will come from city reserve funds.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Comments

paulette2 4 years ago

UNDER CONSTRUCTION NOW

SHOUT PEACE!

a much better expenditure of 'risk' than the TIF funding for the Oread.

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paulette2 4 years ago

just recently started construction/ foundation excavation .....

really this will bring new life to the building and ADA access etc. which is long overdue.

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jafs 4 years, 2 months ago

doesnotplaywell,

My sentiments exactly.

It seems it's much easier to spend others' (taxpayers) money than your own.

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George_Braziller 4 years, 2 months ago

Who knows where the office is now. Visitors Bureau used to be with the Chamber.

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thefactsare 4 years, 2 months ago

Judy Billings is not at the Chamber of Commerce, she is at the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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doesnotplaywellwithothers 4 years, 2 months ago

What happens to normal business people or others when they get elected to office that all fiscal restraints go out the window. I hoped that the present commish's understood the poor economic environment and were better stewards of our money. The building will still be there when the economy improves. Bailing out the Oread building owners millions for 8 jobs. buying top of the market land for the school or future recreational needs, 2 high school football stadiums, etc. while declaring budget deficits and basic services cuts. Who would have guessed?

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KsTwister 4 years, 2 months ago

Just remember the federal grant money still comes from our pocketbook too. Nice you got the cost whittled down from $3 million. Bet that would fix a lot of streets and help with a sewer before asking citizens here for it, AGAIN.

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oneeye_wilbur 4 years, 2 months ago

Lenexa is not far enough out of town.

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oneeye_wilbur 4 years, 2 months ago

bozo, if that's the word on the street, then the commissioners need to look further out of town, There at least 50 states in the United States and someone can work for 1/2 as much. If not, then it's not doabable.

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avoice 4 years, 2 months ago

edgeofbaldwin: More than 20 desperate contractors attended the bid meeting for this project. The one that bid $1.4 million left a lot on the table to win out in this extremely competitive process. Contractors have NO business right now. That may not make this project any kind of priority, but don't go thinking that construction workers are getting fat off taxpayer dollars. Their industry has shed the most jobs over the past 5 years.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 2 months ago

Word on the street is that an out-of-town contractor had the low bid.

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George_Braziller 4 years, 2 months ago

Try contacting Judy Billings at the Chamber of Commerce office. I think she has a desk/office in the Community building but is also spending part of her time at the Chamber.

everett21 (Anonymous) says… this Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area thing; does anyone know how to get ahold of them? i have tried to get ahold of them on the listed phone number with no response before…

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redwombat 4 years, 2 months ago

Hardwoodgoat: There aren't plenty of churches to hold weddings in Lawrence. Most churches don't let people get married there without being members or without paying exorbitant fees in the $3000-$5000 range.

And the rest of you people don't forget that people who take parks and rec classes pay for them which in turn helps pay for things like, you know, the pools, the parks, the playground equipment, etc.

A building like that available for wedding receptions would be booked from April through October, would be booked for holiday parties/non profit fundraisers (think festival of trees or the like) November and December, and would be a great central location for all community town halls, political rallies, etc., etc.

This historic building needs renovation and should be saved. There are so many in this community who harp about new construction and tearing down old decrepit houses. Perhaps those LPA people ought to get behind this. A lot better than sitting empty or being used for storage.

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barrypenders 4 years, 2 months ago

PAD logic at work. Disillusion is the method of attack. Articulation, finely crafted with the essence of 'Pity' and 'Guilt'. Assumed 'Progressive' vernacular redefined into 'Demand'.

I 'Hope and Chance' that the dirt and cement construction scraps are used for all the Village 'Potholes'.

Stimulus, PAD Logic, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless us

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HardwoodGoat 4 years, 2 months ago

quimby: There are plenty of churches in Lawrence for wedding receptions. Curbs and driveable streets are an asset to our community also. I wonder what the kickback on 1.4 mil is?

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quimby 4 years, 2 months ago

I fully support the rennovation of this beautiful, historic building. Lawrence definitely needs more unique spaces for public events such as wedding receptions, and this building has been vacant for too long. It's an asset to our community and should be open to the public as soon as possible.

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cheeseburger 4 years, 2 months ago

May I remind the mayor that, just last week, he indicated cutbacks were on the horizon, and yet each time one of these pet projects comes up, suddenly we have all the money we need? Is it any wonder we have grown to distrust our leaders? Let's vote in some straight-shooters!

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oneeye_wilbur 4 years, 2 months ago

leedavid, you see that is the problem, it is not a library. If it were to be used as a really historical research library for genealogy, local history with documents from Watkins museum moved into it, it might have some class, instead the knuckleheads in charge want parks and rec to have classes. It is truly a waste of money and a squandering on a historic building in the sense that someone not even from Lawrence built the thing and now it goes to yet another bloated city department.

If parks and rec is controlling it, then the least they could do is take out the parking lot on the north side and put in a really nice botanical garden downtown. Something that the future influx of retirees might like to visit. ho hum,

1.4 million is too much. now later and before. This is like the overpriced fire station at 19th and Iowa and while we are at spending. why doesn't the city commission take some of the 1.4 million and fix N.3rd for the residents and everyone else fleeing to the north. It is a disgrace to have a detour road that is in just as bad a shape as the road being repaired. May as well, let people drive thru the mud and under the train overpass. I have never seen such horrible planning coming from the street department with N. 3rd detour.

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Rachael Sudlow 4 years, 2 months ago

I'd be more happy with that money spent on the REAL library.
My guess is that the ONE bid they have is from some friend of the commissioner.

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leedavid 4 years, 2 months ago

We have 1.4 million dollars? Whoa.....why would we spend it on a library? More people go to Barnes and Noble than the library. Lets spend it on something we really need.

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everett21 4 years, 2 months ago

this Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area thing; does anyone know how to get ahold of them? i have tried to get ahold of them on the listed phone number with no response before...

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oneeye_wilbur 4 years, 2 months ago

1.4 million . Do not approve the contract. Tell the contractor you will not pay more than $700,000. That's still over $300 a square foot. That's plenty! How much has already been spent over the past years on studies for the place, since the arts center moved out ?

1.4 million is a rip off .And watch, after this there will be more spent.

That main level should be used for visiting exhibits, open to the general public instead of some downtown reception center. It needs to have a cultural use and not Parks and Rec nonsense in it. So now, not only 1.4 million to rehab and add on, the Parks and Rec department will have to have a bigger budget.

Let's see , another plaque on the new addition with yet some more commissioners names on it. No, no, and no on the price tag. This should be on Bud Hibbs rip off report.

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Rachael Sudlow 4 years, 2 months ago

There are far better uses for the money than a time like this. Aerobics classes should not be a priority right now...instead paying our teachers, city workers & essential city maintenance should be put at the top of the list. Additions & upgrades to an unused non priority building should be done at a time when the city coffers are FULL, not drained nearly empty.
FURTHERMORE, the foundation of the Carnegie buildings is that they're used for public, not office buildings, nor for profit wedding receptions. It seems like a shameful waste first off that Sue Hack originally decided to waste this gorgeous building on storage. Years ago Americana Music Academy, a worthwhile, non profit, community benefiting group sought to use the building. It's a shame they werent "up to par" as parks & recs. More than ever, they deserve the space..a much better use than more cubicles.

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absolutelyridiculous 4 years, 2 months ago

sure hope we don't need the reserve fund to pay for city employee salaries. I say NOT right now.

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Matthew Herbert 4 years, 2 months ago

5 years ago, I spoke to the city commission with a full room of other Lawrencians about using the building for the Americana School of Music and various other music outreach programs. The commission, led by Sue Hack at the time (I believe) gave us a bunch of plastic smiles, then voted against us and instead voted to use it for parks and rec storage. I REFUSE to spend taxpayer money renovating that building if our commission continues its regressive thinking about the uses of that building.

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