FAIRHOPE — With the costs of renovating the second floor of the Fairhope Public Library to expand services now expected to exceed $1 million, project supporters said they will increase …
FAIRHOPE — With the costs of renovating the second floor of the Fairhope Public Library to expand services now expected to exceed $1 million, project supporters said they will increase fundraising efforts.
At the Fairhope City Council work session Monday, June 13, Tamera Dean, library director, said the initial estimate for the project was about $864,000. She said engineers have now told them that rising materials costs will increase the price by at least 20%.
She said the library and project supporters have money and commitments for about $200,000. Dean said library supporters have also asked the Fairhope Single Tax Colony for a donation to help pay the cost of the project.
"We asked them for $500,000, but we're not going to get that. We know that," Dean told city council members at a June 13 work session. "They were very interested in what the city was going to do because I understand they really like to match what y'all do and let the project be collaborative in that way."
Council President Jimmy Conyers said council members had discussed giving $250,000 to the project.
"We, at the time, had kind of put a little asterisk by maybe $250,000ish. Assuming we were able to do that, and the Single Tax was willing to match dollar for dollar, that would put us at $700,000, $800,000, pending some of the grants and the fundraising," Conyers said.
Asked if the city would give more if the Single Tax Colony donated more than $250,000, Conyers said Fairhope officials did not want to commit too much in city money in case revenue dropped or unexpected expenses required more money.
"I think that we could certainly examine it, but we were having conversations earlier about the uncertainty moving forward in the next year, year and a half and trying to be fairly conservative on our projections," Conyers said.
Councilman Jack Burrell said the city now provides more than $1 million to the library.
"I'm worried to commit more than $250,000," Burrell said. "We give $250,000 plus $1 million roughly to the library now for operation. Not to say we won't, but we don't want to make a promise we can't keep. We get into the budget year and then we are tight. I don't know."
The library project calls for space that had been used by Coastal Alabama Community College to be converted into space for teens, meetings and other uses.
Ann Brooks of Mott, MacDonald Engineering and Architecture, said much of the second-floor space will be opened up with glass walls.
Brooks said that since planning began, the cost of glass and steel has risen more than the prices of some other construction material. She said the electrical system on the second floor will also have to be improved to meet the increased demand created by more computers, printers and other services.
Dan Stankowski, a library board member, said the project will be a major benefit for the city, particularly young people.
"The most heartening thing is to see the young kids over there," Stankowski said. "We're talking about young toddlers and teenagers. The library really, really is one of the gems of the city."