September 24, 2011
Emerson library renovations on track
Saturday, September 24, 2011
BY CHRIS HARRIS
EMERSON — The construction phase of a nearly half-million-dollar renovation of the Emerson Public Library will likely be finished by Halloween, Library Board President Bill Panza told the borough council this week.
If work at the library continues according to plan, Panza said the building's grand re-opening could occur the first week of the new year.
"I am positive we will meet our budgetary goals," Panza told Mayor Carlos Colina and the council during a presentation Tuesday, adding that he has been meeting regularly with the project's contractors.
Panza said the project was "70 percent" done at this point. Once the construction phase concludes, work on the interior can begin, including designing a circulation desk and computer lab.
The collaborative interchange Tuesday between Panza, Library Board Treasurer Marcia DeSalvo, and the council marks a shift in relations between the two boards, which were cantankerous just two months ago.
Colina and the board spent months requesting the project's financial statements from the library board and its former director, Jodi Fulgione. Under pressure from the council, the library board changed leadership and fired Fulgione.
"I am extremely pleased with the new leadership of the library," Councilman John Lazar said.
DeSalvo told the council the renovation project — calling for an upgrade of the building's ceiling, lighting and HVAC units, along with a redesigned interior — was on course to come within the $456,000 budget, which includes a change order allowance of $50,000.
A portion of that $50,000 has already been allocated to cover unanticipated costs, including asbestos removal and new wiring for the library's computer network.
DeSalvo said $22,000 of the budget was earmarked for the moving company hired to store the library's contents, while $142,000 still needs to be paid to the contractor for the balance of the renovation work.
The budget also includes a $90,000 reserve, DeSalvo said, that won't be touched. The account was set up to provide the library with enough capital to cover three months' worth of operating costs.
Panza said the library board is considering less expensive carpeting to help stay within the budget, and that some of the library's old furniture will be refurbished.
The second phase of the project will concentrate on the library's new circulation desk and computer lab. Panza said he may try to seek private sponsorships to fund these areas of the library, as well as a proposed children's room.
The library board also told the council it has started searching for a permanent replacement for Fulgione. An interim director is expected to start Monday. The interim director will be paid by the hour, and will work no more than 20 hours a week.
Councilman Scott Rivers said he is "excited by these positive developments," and added that he feels "a partnership" has been restored between the council and the library board.
Posted by tumulty at September 24, 2011 8:35 AM
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