Thursday, January 10, 2013

Library Board Takes the Next Step

On December 7, after presenting the schematic design for the Hudson Area Library's new space in the Armory, architect Vincent Benic expressed the hope that he would get approval, in the next week or two, to move ahead to the design development stage. That didn't happen. The library board cancelled its December meeting, so a month passed before the board had an opportunity to make a decision about approving the schematic design. The opportunity came on Wednesday night at the regular January meeting of the HAL Board of Trustees.

There were two major topics before the board having to do with the library's new space: the schematic design--i.e., the layout, uses of space, and adjacencies--and the project budget. Everyone on the board, except Christine Abitabile, had seen the schematic design, and all who had seen it were happy with it. Mark Young, who spoke for the Armory Committee, called the schematic design "impressive." "It's got a great flow," he said.

The project budget was the subject of greater discussion. Library board president Mark Orton introduced the topic by saying it was "larger than they had thought," describing it as "a work in progress." The total cost of the project is currently set at $2.8 million, which Orton rounded up to $3 million. Young was effusive, calling it "phenomenal in terms of the generosity of Galvan," noting that the foundation was "bringing more money to the table" than first expected. "The generosity shown by Galvan," said Young, "is overwhelming." The Galvan Foundation is going to pay all the costs of the plaza surrounding the entrance to the library, but according to Young, there is still a "large number in the library's column." That number was not publicly revealed at the meeting.

Marie Rasner noted that the community room "drove the building expenses higher." The community room, which is located in the Community Wing of the Armory, that part of the existing building facing North Fifth Street, is according to Young, "a great example of the back and forth between partners." It was something "Galvan wanted to do." "The library can use it," said Young, "but it will not be the library's responsibility." It was not clear if "it will not be the library's responsibility" meant that the library would assume no part of the cost of its development or if the library would not be responsible for its care and maintenance going forward.

The board voted on a resolution to approve the schematic design but to continue to study the budget. Everyone present voted in favor of the motion except Abitabile, who abstained because she had not seen the schematic design.

Orton also spoke about the energy operating cost estimates submitted by Crawford & Associates, which set the annual cost for lighting, heating, and cooling at $28,000--$8,000 more than the library ever paid for utilities in the past, even "with the old boiler." Orton said he intended to discuss the estimates with Michael Sullivan at Crawford.

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