By Catherine O'Hara, REVIEW STAFF
Progress on building a new Waterdown library branch is on track and construction is set to begin this fall, says a Hamilton Public Library (HPL) official.
The new branch, which will replace the current 3,400-square-foot facility on Mill Street North, will be located along Dundas Street East. The site will also be home to the City of Hamilton’s Municipal Services and Recreation centres, as well as various agencies, including Flamborough Information and Community Services.
The library will occupy 15,500 square feet of the expected 24,000-square-foot multi-use complex. While the size of the new branch is smaller than envisioned, the HPL’s chief librarian, Ken Roberts, said the facility will be “a very good, high quality, appropriate building for the community.”
Currently, HPL staff are working to coordinate an open house to be held locally, where they plan to unveil the architectural designs of the new facility.
Roberts anticipates the public meeting will be held this spring.
“We’ll be ready to show people the plans pretty soon and they are terrific,” he said.
The development, years in the planning, encountered some delays early in the process. Site considerations set the project back as the final decision to locate the library on the former Flamborough Town Hall site wasn’t finalized until after the 2010 municipal election.
“You may remember, right after the election, there was a desire to revisit it and the reasoning for that site,” said Roberts. “All of that was done and completed; that acted as a bit of a delay on it right there.”
Since selecting the building’s architect, the HPL has established a realistic timetable, which it managed to stick to.
The budget, however, has fluctuated.
“As we mentioned all along, the funding for this project had been set so everyone of those site consideration delays takes time and the money is still finite,” said Roberts.
Two years ago, $5.3 million was budgeted to cover the costs of construction, furnishings and collections. Now, the HPL believes it will cost $6.8 million to realize the project.
Faced with a potential $1.5-million shortfall, the HPL board recently approved setting aside additional funds to cover funding gaps.
In an attempt to reduce its construction costs, Roberts explained that officials have gone over the project’s details and made revisions to the plans.
“We’ve gone through that carefully and taken out those elements that we thought could be taken out without compromising the project,” he said.
Cost-cutting measures have included changing some of the finishings and reducing the establishment’s footprint by 2,500 square feet from the HPL’s preferred size of 18,000 square feet.
Organizations are anxious to set up shop within the new Waterdown branch, which should be complete by the end of 2013 or early in 2014. The amount of space they will receive will be determined by a city formula that is commonly used to establish office space needs, noted Roberts.
“Unfortunately, when prices increase, what gets shrunk is your space,” said Shelley Scott, executive director of Flamborough Information and
Community Services. While she may have to operate within smaller than expected confines, the not-for-profit organization’s services won’t be negatively impacted.
“We will still provide all of our services. Our services will not be diminished at all,” said Scott, who is looking forward to the completion of the brand new facility to better serve the needs of Flamborough residents.
“It’s great that they’ve actually included us (in the library’s design plans) because it shows the importance of what we do in the community.”