“It's been a busy and productive summer,” says Ann Butler, chairman of the library board of trustees. Butler notes that “A publicly funded building project takes far more planning and coordination than would be involved in building a home or even a privately funded commercial building. There's been ongoing dialog with town officials and town committees since the spring as we follow the steps that are required by the town.” Those discussions have been cordial and productive notes Butler.
Jonathan James, chairman of the select board and a Meredith library trustee, concurs. Noting that all but two of the seven library trustees were elected for the first time in March he says, “The current board of library trustees has been working with town officials to get an understanding of the process that needs to be followed in a town funded project.” He’s also eager to let the public know that the select board and the library trustees are in agreement that the library will be staying in its current location and that the expansion and renovation needs to happen to meet the current and future needs of town residents.
The project has already come before the capital improvements planning (CIP) committee and will again be before the CIP committee in October. “There are several projects in the next few years that need to be scheduled in a way so as not to significantly impact the town’s tax rate,” says James.
Although still subject to change in the next few months, the current thinking is that the library trustees will be seeking funding at the town meeting in March of 2019 for the design phase of the project. This phase involves the library trustees sending out through the town a formal request for qualifications (RFQ) for an architect in the project. James notes that this phase of the project can only start if the money is approved at town meeting.
Once the RFQ responses are back, the library trustees will formally select an architect to move the project from the conceptual phase it’s currently in to the design process. It is the design process that will eventually result in the development of the detailed plans used for the construction and renovation of the library.
Butler states that public input will be a key part of this design process. “The trustees are planning on using a charrette process and surveys to get as many people as possible to participate. We will be updating the public regularly as the planning process moves forward.” Following the formal design process, the funds for construction and renovation will be requested in a warrant article at a town meeting. James notes that the current thinking is that this will be in 2020, although he notes that this may change.
Although the exact timing of the process is still pending based on the work of the CIP committee this fall, the town and the library trustees agree that the project will have owner’s project manager (OPM) who will oversee and manage the project from beginning to end.
While it is anticipated that a large percentage of the library project will be funded through a bond sought by the town, efforts are already underway to seek donations and grants to reduce the cost of the project. As is common these days with library building projects, an independent charitable 501(c)(3) organization known as the Meredith Library Fund is being formed. They seek private and corporate donations and grants to reduce the taxpayer’s cost for the project. Butler notes that this entity is an independent organization from the library, the Friends of the Library and the town, but has the full support of the library trustees and the select board. Questions regarding the fund should be referred to the Meredith Library Fund president Jim McFarlin.