The Park City Council on Thursday night agreed to move ahead with a major renovation of the Park City Library and Education Center this year, signaling its intention in a split straw poll that illustrated the difficulty the elected officials had in making the decision.
The majority -- City Councilors Liza Simpson, Dick Peek and Cindy Matsumoto -- expressed their comfort in the project as they cast their votes in the straw poll. The dissenters -- City Councilors Andy Beerman and Tim Henney -- mentioned topics like rising costs and the level of public involvement to date. Henney said there had been a "questionable amount of public exposure" but softened his comments later as he said he was a library supporter.
The project is expected to start in June with full completion expected in June of 2015. The renovation of the third floor is projected to be completed by Jan. 1, 2015, though, to ensure the Santy Auditorium is ready for the Sundance Film Festival that month. The auditorium is a festival screening room.
The work was originally budgeted in 2013 at $5.6 million. The figure steadily climbed, reaching a current estimate of $9.3 million. Construction costs went up more than $1 million and environmental upgrades estimated at more than $1 million were added, the two largest increases.
The overall price also includes the temporary move of the library's operations, technology upgrades to the library and digital upgrades that will be made to the Santy Auditorium.
Jonathan Weidenhamer, who directs City Hall's economic development programs, said the project will be put out to bid in May. Officials in the meantime will spend time finalizing details like the operations of a temporary library. They will also reach agreements with tenants housed in the Library and Education Center for their operations during the work. He said City Hall is committed to having the Park City Film Series and the Park City Cooperative Preschool return to the redone facility.
The renovated library will feature numerous upgrades and more space for the collection as well as expanded community space. The supporters of the project argue that the library needs to be modernized. It is located in a historic building that once housed a high school. The work will include an expansion of the building slightly to the north.
A Snyderville Basin man who closely follows Old Town issues, Jim Tedford, spoke to Mayor Jack Thomas and the City Council on Thursday, telling them that the design of the expansion to the north does not fit with the historic building. He called it a "big glass wall." He said exterior alterations should be minimized.
Representatives of the Park City Film Series also addressed the elected officials, saying that the organization supports the renovation but the work will impact the series. A temporary location will need to be found to screen the films and the not-for-profit organization does not have funds to operate elsewhere for an extended period, the elected officials were told.
There was discussion about delaying the decision. Weidenhamer and the project team said the preschool would be impacted by the uncertainty. If the decision was not made on Thursday, the project would have been delayed for one year, Weidenhamer said afterward.
The straw poll on Thursday and the formal votes anticipated in coming months will cap a drawn-out discussion about the library and building. There was earlier debate about building a new library, but that idea was rejected in favor of renovating the current one.