City approves $75K for glass artwork for library, $5.2 million for parking garage bids

When the newly expanded $19 million Lawrence Public Library opens in another year or so, visitors will be greeted by a shimmering display of hanging glass artwork.

City commissioners at their weekly meeting unanimously approved $5.2 million worth of bids to begin construction work on the parking garage for the library, but they actually spent more time getting acquainted with the $75,000 piece of public art planned for the building.

“It is very cool stuff,” Mayor Bob Schumm said as commissioners approved a recommendation from the city’s Cultural Arts Commission to award a contract to the artist team of Dierk Van Keppel and John Shreve.

The duo had submitted six different designs for possible glass-oriented artwork that could be included in the library project. Grace Peterson, the chairwoman of an eight-member selection committee, said the group was recommending the bulk of the $75,000 budget be spent on a piece that will feature sheets of colored glass that will hang in the new two-story atrium area of the library.

“Light will come in through that clear story and really just allow so much color to bounce around the space,” said Peterson, who teaches art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

The duo of Van Keppel and Shreve also had proposed an outdoor glass sculpture made to resemble a fountain for the open plaza area between the library and the new parking garage. But Peterson said that portion of the proposal won’t be done.

The city approved the $75,000 worth of artwork for the library as part of the city’s Percent for Art program, which strives to spend 1 percent of the cost of public buildings on public artwork. The city, however, has the discretion to spent less than 1 percent and chose to limit the budget $75,000 for the $19 million library project.

As for the $5.2 million worth of bids on Tuesday night, commissioners accepted them with little comment. The bid package came in about $200,000 less than budgeted, after architects made a handful of technical adjustments to the parking garage’s specifications. Preliminary work on the garage will begin in mid-December, and the library is expected to move to its temporary space in the former Borders building at Seventh and New Hampshire streets in mid-January.

The city left the issue of whether to add another level to the proposed 250-space parking garage for another night. City staff members are crafting a new proposal for a downtown benefit district that would charge property owners a special assessment to pay for the extra level, which will cost about $835,000. Commissioners likely will be presented with that proposal some time in December.

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved a resolution ordering Patricia Sinclair to clean up the exterior yard conditions at her home at 331 Johnson Ave.

If Sinclair doesn’t clean up the exterior storage in her yard and on her porch, the city can go in and clean up the items and assess the costs against her future property taxes. Sinclair, however, still has the opportunity to appeal the city’s finding in court. Sinclair vigorously opposed the city’s finding on Tuesday night.