07/13/11 — County gives OK to Steele Memorial architects

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County gives OK to Steele Memorial architects

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 13, 2011 1:46 PM

A $311,000 contract to begin the design phase of the new $3.4 million Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive was approved Tuesday morning by county commissioners.

The contract awarded to RATIO Architects of Raleigh will be paid for through private donations.

"It is a lump sum fee of $311,000," County Manager Lee Smith told commissioners. "It (money) has been raised through private donations. The construction we are estimating at $2.65 million, with furniture and fixtures at approximately $500,000, for a total of $3.1 million, then including the (design) fees $3.4 million (total).

"What we anticipate doing is getting started if you agree today to allow us to proceed to get started on design, to bring those designs later in the fiscal year to the board for consideration and the potential bidding of the contract with actual construction to start no earlier that July 2012. We estimate this fiscal year mostly getting designs and rendering done and that kind of thing."

The design to renovate the former Belk's building at 119 West Main St. into a regional library to serve all of southern Wayne County will utilize the building program developed by library consultant Phillip Barton in March 2010.

The project could go out to bid between March 11 and April 10, 2012, with the contract being awarded by May 10, 2012. Construction would take a year to complete and the library would move into the renovated building in June 2013.

Commissioner Steve Keen asked how much of the $311,000 had been raised.

Just over $311,000, Smith said.

"Is this cash? Is this money in the bank?" Keen said.

"Yes," Smith said. "This is money raised, not pledged, but money raised to cover these fees."

However, Lynn Williams, chairman of the Steele Memorial Library Steering Committee, said that the total, including gifts and pledges, was more than $342,000.

Keen then made the motion to approve the contract. It was unanimously approved.

RATIO was recommended for the contract by the Steele Memorial Library Steering Committee, which conducted the grassroots fundraising campaign to pay for the project's design phase.

The county purchased the Belk building and a parking lot located diagonally across West Main Street for $400,000 from Mount Olive College.

Approximately 15,581 square feet of the 23,000-square-foot building would be used for library services. It is expected to have shelving capacity for more than 67,000 items including 20,000 children's books and audiovisual items, 40,000 adult and teen books and 7,000 audiovisual items.

The library would have separate areas for small children and teens, and an exterior courtyard where patrons could sit and read or take advantage of a wireless Internet connection. The outdoor courtyard probably would be located on the large sidewalk area in front of the new library and access would be through the library only.

Public meeting space would be available after hours. There would be several smaller study spaces and public computer areas.

Also, the technical services department now located at the Ash Street branch will move to Steele Memorial Library. The department is responsible for preparing books for circulation and getting them on the shelves as well as maintaining the system's database of materials.