The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

August 28, 2013

Clinton Public Library expansion moves forward

By Katie Dahlstrom
Assistant Editor

CLINTON — CLINTON - With three options in hand, Clinton Public Library officials plan to move forward on a mission to secure funding for a library renovation that could cost between $7 million and $14 million.  

During the Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday night, Clinton Library Director Amy Birtell and architect Rob Winters with Gere Dismer Architects presented council members with the recommendations from the ongoing space needs assessment: three options for expanding the library.  

“It’s going to have to come from a lot of places,” Birtell said of the funding for the potential renovations to the main branch.  

The first two renovation options were presented at a meeting in July. The first, more scaled-down option would cost $7.3 million and give the library an additional 2,629 square feet as well as an ADA compliant entrance. The second option encompassed everything on the library wishlist, coming in at $13.9 million and adding 19,640 feet to the library. In addition to making the library ADA compliant and adding programming space, option two includes amenities such as a cafe, an exterior plaza and study rooms.

At the request of At-large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf, a third option was created that fell between the first two options in terms of price and size.

The third option would cost $11.9 million and boost library space by 16,705 square feet. This option also addresses ADA and programming space issues, but does not contain a cafe and cuts programming capacity by 100 seats from the second option.  

While council members did not indicate which option they preferred, they did support the library taking the next steps to make the renderings of an expanded facility come to life.

“The best part of the plans is that it is in the current building and it retains the current building and improves it. Because that is what the community’s wanted all along, the majority of people,” Ward 3 Councilwoman Bev Hermann said.

A November 2010 referendum that would have allowed the city to bond for up to $10 million to relocate the library to the former Harding Elementary School failed with 65 percent of voters casting “no” votes.

Birtell and Winters will return to the council on Sept. 10 to go over their final report of the study. After the final presentation, they will submit the plans to the Capital Improvements Plan Committee to request to be included as a funding referendum in the next five years.

Once the CIP Committee reviews the plans, the fund-raising campaign will start. Officials will look towards grants, private donations and government funds to secure funding before asking voters to approve the renovations through a referendum.

“I’m in favor of moving forward with this and getting into the planning,” Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman said. “And I think your checklist of looking for local money and grants is the starting point, that way when you get ready for the public to have the vote on what option they may will give us a better position to be in to support one of the three.”