The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 25, 2013

Financial adjustments continue as new library takes shape

Turning the Page

By Kim West
kwest@athensnews-courier.com

— Library Foundation officials are moving forward with a $1 million line of credit to temporarily finance a portion of the second phase of the Athens-Limestone Public Library under construction on South Jefferson Street.

Library Director Paula Laurita said five local banks have already responded to a Request for Proposal sent earlier this month. During the ALPL Foundation Board’s Aug. 15 meeting, Laurita said the RFP bids would be opened at the Sept. 19 meeting at the present library at 405 E. South Street.

Foundation records for the $6.1 million fundraising campaign show $1.2 million in outstanding pledges for the new, 38,427-square foot library, including $500,000 from the endowment for Phase II and $500,000 from a planned estate gift.

“The $1 million line of credit will be secured by the Southard Trust; however, it will be paid back by the outstanding pledges,” said Laurita. “Just because we have a $1 million line of credit doesn’t mean we want to draw on it if we don’t need it.”

Exterior emergence

The first phase of the project includes exterior work, while the second and final phase will be interior remodeling and furnishing of the former Kroger’s grocery store.

David Seibert, a member of the library construction committee and the Foundation Board, said during the meeting that “everything is going great and on schedule” for Phase I.

“People will be able to drive by and see a building being put up instead of the appearance of it being torn down,” Seibert said. “They’re putting in the store front of the building during the next month, and it’s going to have limestone and stucco. Steel will be going up soon, and the bracing is already there.”

He said footings are being poured to hold up the front of the canopies, and the roof will be torn out and replaced. The west parapet will be completed “from the top all the way around,” and work is also being done to the flooring, heating and cooling ducts.

“They poured a 2-foot retaining wall in the back and a 4-foot concrete trough to carry water that comes off the roof,” Seibert said.

Project architect Jeff Tosh of CMH Architects agreed with Seibert’s assessment that the building is transitioning into a structure with a fresh image.

“(By mid-September), it’s going to look like a new building. Every plumbing fixture on the plan already has a pipe sticking up,” Tosh said.

Tosh said the site’s landscaping plan features 273 shrubs, 33 crepe myrtles, seven dogwoods and four maples.

“There’s going to be a strip of landscaping on the north side of the building, and we’re going to have azaleas, boxwoods and landscaping islands,” he said.

Interior inquiries

Tosh, who found out the library project became green-lighted the day his 4-year-old daughter was born, said the philosophy behind the interior work for Phase II is to transform the sprawling space into something more inviting.

The interior budget is still fluid since more money is being raised for the second phase but Tosh said he has already drawn the library for a base bid.

“Our goal is to make it look as good as possible in spite of it being a big building,” he said. “It will be a lot warmer facility as you’re walking through, instead of all metal … and we are trying to provide plenty of options within a good price.”

Laurita described planning the design and flow of the different areas in the new library as “a big puzzle,” while using a classic decorating approach and a neutral color palette for the carpeting, walls and furniture.

“One of the things Jeff and I have talked about is making sure (the interior design) doesn’t date too quickly,” she said. “It’s easier to add color to a neutral base than to work with a blue and orange color scheme (as with the current library).”