Library estimate cut in half: Soldotna council sees ideas for new addition

Posted: Sunday, November 01, 2009

"Prices slashed. Build now," might have been a fitting title for the architect's presentation last week describing plans for a Soldotna library expansion.

During a Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, Peter Klauder of Klauder and Company Architects told members of the Soldotna City Council the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library could be expanded to 18,000 square-feet for about $5.5 million.

Klauder's earlier estimate of $12 million had shocked the city on arrival.

A needs analysis last year showed the existing 8,000 square-foot library needs to be expanded to 15,824 to serve Soldotna's current population, and should be at 17,774 square feet to meet the projected 2020 needs.

In October 2008, Klauder estimated the cost of doubling the size of the library at around $12 million.

Last week, he said his firm looked at how the library's projected needs could be met with the existing space and determined the city needed to acquire more land to expand the library and provide for additional parking as required by city building codes.

"We developed three options and presented them to the (library) board," Klauder said.

From that meeting, a fourth, hybrid design was developed, he said.

One option calls for developing the existing library's basement into a teen section; another does not include developing the basement. One calls for retaining the current garden area outside the library; another does not.

The hybrid option includes building a 6,000 square-foot addition onto the existing 8,000 square-foot building and developing the basement area into multi-purpose meeting rooms. No teen section would be going into the lower floor area.

The main entrance would be built near the existing entrance, but would be a direct access entry facing the intersection of Binkley Street and West Corral Avenue rather than the existing left door entry. A second entrance also would be added, serving the expanded parking lot to be built on recently purchased acreage north of the library.

The children's section would be designed into the new addition to the south of the existing library and the teen section would be between the children's section and the Internet area and music collection. Adult reading areas and adult book stacks would be scattered about the existing main floor.

"All library functions would be on the main floor," Klauder said, adding that library workers would be able to see and manage the entire library from the central circulation desk.

All four options will meet the 2020 needs.

Mayor Peter Micciche said the next step would be to schedule a work session with the library board, which has endorsed the hybrid option 4.

City Manager Larry Semmens said one-third or one-half of the money for the project should come from municipal bonds; $2 million should come from the city's fund balance; and the remainder should come from a grant funding organization such as the Rasmuson Foundation.

The city council would need to be ready with an approved ordinance or resolution by next July in order for Semmens to put the question on the ballot to ask Soldotna voters for the bonding authority.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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