Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Building study moves to next step

Well, Saturday was our budget hearing, and it went mostly OK, and the paper told the story, mostly accurately. The next stage of our building study, preliminary design & cost estimates, was approved by committee and now goes to the full City Council on Nov. 12.

There was a bit of a misunderstanding that has led some people to assume the Council killed out building study. Not so, but they voted to delay starting work on an upgraded RFID security system.

I'd recommend the Post-Crescent article, with a grain of salt: there's a lot of good information there. Unfortunately, due to what I think was a misunderstanding, I got misquoted on the issue, and that led to a slightly sensationalized headline:

Appleton Public Library proposal may stall out due to financial crisis
By Steve Wideman • Post-Crescent staff writer • October 26, 2008

APPLETON — A $107,000 first step toward preparing for a new Appleton Public Library could see a one-year delay amid aldermen's concerns about starting a major project during the global economic downturn. ...

Library Director Terry Dawson said approval of the $107,000 was necessary to prepare for a new library, estimated to cost $30 million to $40 million, as recommended by consultants in July to meet library space needs.

The amount the committee voted to delay is for the first year's work on a new security system -- a good idea and useful, but hardly necessary to prepare for a new library. It would be really good to have RFID conversion completed and operational before we get to any new space. The sooner we do it, the sooner we start seeing long-term savings. But it's a multi-year project in any case, and it will be a number of years before we get anything very different with our building.

Neither would I presume that it will be a new library -- it could be a remodeled expanded facility. And I wouldn't put a price tag on it yet. The figure quoted are two that we've heard, but that's one reason we want to do some design and cost studies next year: we should make some decisions and get better information.

My concern with the misunderstanding is that I've heard from a number of folks concerned that the City Council has pulled the rug out from under our building study. On the contrary, we were hoping to do a short-term project (RFID) that would have some service efficiencies and dovetail with a long-term project (a new or remodeled building). We can still do it, though if we wait still another year, the dovetailing gets progressively trickier.

But the next phase of the building study is still alive and pending Council approval Nov. 12.

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