Tuesday, May 19, 2015

TOP STORY >> New Sherwood library step closer

Leader staff writer

Sherwood will have $3.9 million to actually build its new library and close to $1 million to purchase the four to six acres needed for the facility, according to Bobby Roberts, director of the Central Arkansas Library System.

Roberts made the announcement at an organizational meeting of the land selection committee Monday night at the city’s current library.

The committee should have the site selected by the end of summer.

Roberts said plans call for a new 14,500-square-foot library, which would be 6,000 square feet larger than the city’s current facility, the Amy Sanders Library.

He said voters approved a temporary 1.3 millage increase in November to issue $6 million in bonds. The estimated annual cost to taxpayers is about $39 on a $150,000, or the cost of two new hardback books a year. The tax will end when the bonds are paid off, which Roberts said typically takes about 12 years.

He told the committee that breaks down to $3.9 million for the building, a $195,000 contingency fee, $274,000 for extra architectural and engineering expenses and $435,000 for furnishings, leaving $980,200 for purchasing the land.

“If we get the land for less than that, the savings can be used on the building or another aspect of the library, but it must be used on the library,” Roberts said.

The committee will advertise for site possibilities through the newspaper, the city website and the CALS website.

Alderman Ken Keplinger, one of the seven members, suggested that all site suggestions get turned in by 5 p.m. June 19.

Roberts said it would take about a week for CALS to develop a list from the sites turned in.

He then said committee members needed to visit the sites before meeting to rank them.

Once the committee ranks the sites based on such criteria as visibility, city growth patterns, access and price, Roberts said the architects and engineers will rank the sites based on technical criteria, including the ease or difficulty of preparing the site, utilities and soil conditions.

“Often the committee’s picks mesh with architect’s rankings,” he added.

Roberts suggested the committee narrow the selection to three or four. “No site will be perfect, so it will be a compromise and what is best for the city,” he said, noting that if three or four sites are in the running that often helps reduce the price.

Roberts pointed out that, at times, the library system has had land donated to them, but the cost of preparing the land because of flood issues or soil conditions actually made it more expensive than going out and buying a good piece of land.

The committee decided that all site suggestions be sent to the library, and they are hoping to start with 30 or 40 possibilities.

“The biggest requirement is that the land has to be within the city limits,” Roberts said. “And then the acreage and the price cannot exceed $980,000.”

Mayor Virginia Young re-emphasized the need to have at least four acres. “We’ve already built on a small size and don’t want to do that again,” the mayor said.

Keplinger said, wherever the library ends up, he wants to “make it easier for Gravel Ridge to come to the Sherwood facility than Jacksonville.”

Members of the committee include Keplinger, Bonnie Bratcher, William Paul Cummings, Planning Commissioner Lucien Gillham, Dr. Kelly Sanders, Martha Van Pelt and CALS Board of Trustees member Lupe Pena-Valdez, who will act as the chairman.