05/06/11 — Library will move forward with architect choice

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Library will move forward with architect choice

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 6, 2011 1:46 PM

An architect who would be responsible for designing Mount Olive's new $3.5 million Steele Memorial Library could be selected by county commissioners when they meet May 17.

The Steele Memorial Library Steering Committee recommended last month that the job be awarded to Ratio Architects of Raleigh, which designed the Cameron Village branch of the Wake County Library.

The company was among those that had responded to the county's request for qualifications to craft a design for renovations to the former Belk's department store building on West Main Street.

However, the project was temporarily halted by County Manager Lee Smith who Tuesday announced the search was back on.

"We are certainly pleased that we are moving forward with the architect we selected," said Lynn Williams, chairman of the Steele Memorial Library Steering Committee. "We are very pleased that we can move forward at this time. Once we have an architect on board, we can go to work and put our ideas on paper -- then it really gets exciting."

Smith Tuesday praised the committee and library staff for working on the architect request for qualifications.

"I did have a meeting with some local contractors, some engineer/designers," Smith told commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. "We are working on the design/build (legislative) bill for Wayne County. That is moving and has gotten some traction, and we think that it is going to pass. It doesn't necessary mean we will use it.

"I did slow down that process of the (library) RFQ for a couple of weeks, but I will tell you it is my recommendation today that I go back to the Friends of the Library and ask them to prepare the recommendation and come to commissioners probably not using design-build."

Design/build is a team approach that includes the architect/engineer and contractor working together on a project from design to construction.

The state is using it for the U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass. Other counties have used it, too. However, it is not currently among the procedures that the county can utilize.

Smith last month delayed the library project to see if design-build would provide a better and possibly less-expensive approach to the project.

"It is a $3.5 million project," he said. "We know what it is, and on the advice of some of these local contractors and engineers, it is appropriate to go ahead and allow them to move that back and bring it back to the next meeting with a recommendation to hire an architect/engineer for that project. The design cost and architectural cost and rendering cost will be paid by private funds and not taxpayers' money."

The library steering committee has raised about $317,000 of its $350,000 goal, which will pay for the project design.

Donations for the library project are still welcomed, Mrs. Williams said.

Checks should be made payable to the Wayne County Public Library, and the Steele Memorial Building Project should be indicated on the checks. Checks may be mailed to the Wayne County Public Library, 1001 East Ash St., Goldsboro, NC 27530.

Mrs. Williams said she is anticipating a large donation in coming weeks and that a mailing seeking donations is still being planned.

She said she is confident that the goal will be reached, if not exceeded. Any monies over the $350,000 would be used to help the library better preserve and display its Marion Hargrove collection.

The late Hargrove was a Mount Olive native who went on to a successful career as a screenwriter for television and motion pictures including "The Music Man."

The estimated $3.5 million project will transform the former Belk's building on West Main Street into a regional library to serve all of southern Wayne County.

The  23,000-square-foot building and parking lot located diagonally across West Main Street was purchased by the county for $400,000 from Mount Olive College.