As one of the top priority capital improvement projects being considered by the city of Kenai, the public library expansion alternative number one received unanimous support of the city council last week.
City Manager Rick Koch submitted five alternatives with a couple versions of each to the council for its selection. Choices ranged from one-story to two-story additions, to building a second story atop the existing library to starting from scratch with an entirely new library at a new location.
Price tags also spanned a wide range from $5.2 million to as high as $14 million.
The alternative agreed upon by the council calls for a 10,000 square-foot, single-story addition to be built onto the existing Kenai Community Library.
With a price estimated at $5,276,000, the addition is expected to meet the library's current needs. The plan assumes an additional 7,000 square-foot expansion probably a partial second story would be added in the future.
Koch told the council having a fixed price target allows him to begin a search for grant funding to build the addition. In October, city voters approved allowing the city to incur debt for the expansion with the issue $2 million in bonds.
The existing library, according to Klauder and Company Architects, lacks Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, has poor acoustical separation, combines teen and children's functions, is too small in most functional areas, has inadequate storage and needs technological upgrades.
The expansion plans would make the facility ADA compliant, create a teen-only reading area, include provisions for community programs, add a second entry for secure after-hours access to meeting rooms and expand rest rooms.
Additionally, the expansion would provide improved technology resources and telecommunications infrastructure, phase out the card catalog and expand the use of an online computer catalog, enhanced visibility of nonprint media and accommodate future expansion.
The square footage in the public circulation and support area would go from the existing 2,122 feet to 3,650 feet. The area for book stacks would grow from 4,166 to 8,490 and the administrative staff area would go from 979 square-feet to 1,225 square feet.
The addition would be built to the west of the existing building, eventually connecting to Kenai City Hall at the Fidalgo Avenue side when a second-story is added.
The second entry would be built on the Fidalgo Avenue side.
The advantages listed for alternative number one include providing the most flexible floor plan arrangement for program spaces, allowing direct connection to city hall, allowing economical slab-on-grade construction and providing easiest ADA compliance.
The negatives include displacing trees and a central open space and requiring an elevator for future expansion.
City administration anticipates preparing grant requests prior to the end of the year.
Grant funding requests are to go to the Rasmuson Foundation, the Murdoch Foundation, USDA Rural Development and the Denali Commission.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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