Soon, this idea of a $19 million expansion of the Lawrence Public Library will go from lines on paper to shovels in the ground.
Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting are scheduled to accept $5.2 million worth of bids — the first received for the project — which will allow preliminary construction work to begin by Dec. 17.
“It is really exciting to see some things start to get in motion,” said Brad Allen, director of the Lawrence Public Library. “We are very pleased the first set of bids came in at a price that is going to work.”
The first set of bids are for work related to site preparation and the public parking garage that will serve the library and the surrounding area. The bids were a bit of a mixed bag.
GouldEvans, the Lawrence-based architecture firm for the project, is recommending about $314,000 worth of deletions to garage design in order to bring the garage in under budget.
“They are helping us value engineer to keep the project on budget, but we’re confident we’re still getting a very high-quality project,” said City Manager David Corliss.
Most of the changes were technical in nature, ranging from eliminating the epoxy coating on restroom floors in the parking garage to changing the type of cable barriers used on the project.
The city, however, did receive positive bids related to adding an extra level of parking to the garage. City officials had estimated it would cost about $1 million to add an extra level to the garage, but bids for the work came in at $834,806.
City staff members previously have recommended creating a new special benefit district that would charge downtown property owners for the cost to add the additional public parking. City commissioner won’t take action on that item on Tuesday. Instead, Corliss said his staff will prepare a new benefit district proposal using the lower cost figures.
Commissioners could be presented with those numbers in the next two to three weeks. Commissioners likely will need to decide whether to move forward with the extra level of parking by late December. The extra level would add 72 spaces to the garage, which currently is proposed to have 250 parking spaces.
Officials with Lawrence-based B.A. Green Construction, the construction manager for the project, are estimating work to relocate utilities in the area will begin on the week of Dec. 17.
By the end of December, construction work is expected to close the southern end of the parking lot. Construction crews want to get started soon because architects are aiming to have the bottom two levels of the parking garage open by Memorial Day to accommodate visitors to the adjacent outdoor city swimming pool.
“It is going to be tight, though,” Corliss said.
Other project details expected to be discussed Tuesday night by commissioners, include:
• Library officials tentatively plan to close the library for about two weeks while they move out of the existing library and into the temporary library in the former Borders building at Seventh and New Hampshire streets. Allen said the current schedule calls for moving to begin about Jan. 7 with the library reopening about Jan. 21.
• City officials have begun restriping the parking lot surrounding the former Borders building. The parking lot will become a two-hour lot monitored by city parking enforcement crews while the library is in the building.
• The $5.2 million in bids for the library parking garage were broken into 22 bid packages in an attempt to make it easier for smaller, local subcontractors to bid on the work. Several area companies did post the low bid for portions of the project, including R.D. Johnson Excavating, B.A. Green Construction, Diamond Everley Roofing, Advanced Glass and Mirror and others.
• The parking garage will be built with special conduit that will allow the city to eventually add parking control arms at the exit to the garage. The arms would allow users to pay via credit card, much like the system installed at the Kansas Union parking garage. Corliss, though, said the city likely won’t install the system right away.
Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.