2017-05-11 / Front Page

Library expansion cost now estimated at about $5.5M


A revised estimate from an architect has put the price tag on the planned expansion and renovation of the library at about $5.5 million.

Library trustee Paul Housberg said he received the updated figure from architect Mohamad Farzan — which is upwards of $800,000 more than thought a week ago — but has not had a chance to speak with him to clarify from where the additional costs stem.

At its May 2 building committee meeting, the group was told the base cost of the project was $4.38 million, but additional expenses, such as accounting, engineering and legal fees, could increase the cost by about $400,000. Farzan’s new estimate also includes the cost for items that were not clearly defined in last week’s figure and are based on subsequent information he received in the interim timeframe.

The current plan includes a 4,000-square-foot addition with an unfinished basement. That wing, which would house the new children’s area, would be connected to the building’s auditorium at the northwest corner. The board also has considered a retractable wall between the rooms to benefit from shared space.

According to the plan, the children’s area in the southern part of the building would become part of the adult section. The middle of the building, including the Sydney Wright Museum, would be enlarged to centralize staffing. The Narragansett relics housed in the museum would be returned to the tribe.

While the trustees have not authorized any amount for the project, they did set a timetable for the next year in regard to fundraising and evaluating what they may do in 2018.

The board will apply for various grants, as well as do a feasibility study of its fundraising capacity through the end of 2017. Then it will re-evaluate where it stands in the first half of 2018 before deciding whether to continue with the plan in its current state or to modify it based on what it estimates its eventual financial ceiling may be.

Some of the trustees expressed concern about the “sticker shock” of the potential cost.

“The magnitude of that number is large and we need to be aware of it,” said trustee Jen Cloud. “There’s also a number that’s acceptable to the public and sometimes that’s lower than you thought.”

Despite the concern, others said they must let the process play out.

“If it’s not a doable number, we’ll work on that as we go on,” said Mary Lou Sanborn, the board’s president.

“That’s the whole point of doing the feasibility study so we can all be comfortable with it,” Housberg said.

“We have to at least go down the path and see what we can do and see what’s acceptable and what we can raise,” said Peter Carson, who added that the board’s 501(c)3 foundation has raised about $110,000 since being formed three months ago.

Several of the board members met with their fundraising consultants and some town residents Monday to get a start on that effort. They’re looking for between 30-60 Jamestowners they can talk to in the next several months as part of the

These interviews are aimed at helping the consultants get a handle on the willingness of potential donors, as well as the ability for the bard to raise the number it believes it will need. That number sill is unknown as it will be lowered by any grants the board can secure from places such as the Champlin Foundations and the state Office of Library and Information Services.

One of the other items discussed with the fundraisers was that the board needs to do a better job of getting its message out about why the project is needed and beneficial to the town. The belief is that better communication and public relations efforts with the community could help in attracting donors.

They said you need to get out there and tell your story,” said Donna Fogarty, the library director.

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