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Build a New Library for Belmont



Staying in the current library building for the next 10 or 20 years will require significant repair and maintenance to the current building.  This document summarizes our investigation into the cost of simply maintaining a library at the current site.  As detailed below, the result of this cost turns out to require a substantial reduction in what we presently offer, due to accessibility permitting requirements.




We asked an architectural firm, Johnson Roberts Associates, to estimate the cost of repairing and maintaining the current library building. We also have a description of each repair item. The problems go back to 2005, as shown in this earlier report of the building's systems.


In the updated estimate, we asked the architect to divide the costs into three categories: essential repairs, modifications for accessibility, and basic maintenance.


The first category is essential repairs.  These are generally structural problems that involve safety or where a failure to address them will result in bigger problems.  In 2011, the cost for these repairs was estimated at $3.35 million.


The second category concerns accessibility.  If the total cost of repairs in a 36-month period exceeds 30% of the assessed value of the building, we are required by the state Architectural Access Board (AAB) to make the building fully accessible. This is required to get a local building permit to do the repairs.(Details are available at the AAB web site, specifically section 3). We should, but perhaps would not, do this work otherwise.


The assessed value of the building is $6.4 million, so the 30% threshold is $1.9 million.  Mandatory repairs easily exceed that amount, so it seems that we must make the building accessible if we do the repairs needed to stay in the building.  The cost of AAB repairs is estimated at $1.13 million.


Unfortunately, our current bookshelf configuration does not meet AAB requirements.  Getting a permit, if AAB accessibility requirements are imposed, would require that we reconfigure our shelving and, as a result, lose about 30% of the open space in the library.  This will result in a significant reduction in programs, reading areas and space for materials.


The cost of expanding on the current site to avoid this reduction in space has also been studied before. It would be more efficient to tear down and rebuild on the current site than to renovate and add on to the new building due to site restrictions. The earlier study materials are available at this link


The last category is basic maintenance.  These problems can be put off, but will require replacement or updating if we are to continue to have a livable library.  This includes repairing the front steps, and replacing 20-year-old carpeting and asbestos floor tiles.  The cost of these repairs is estimated at $2.34 million.


The cost estimates are based on the minimum work to address currently identified problems.  For example, due to low space in the ceilings and the concrete floor, HVAC replacement will continue to be a patchwork of small and large units, instead of a central system.  There is no contingency for problems that arise for systems that the study did not identify as already past their useful life but which could nevertheless fail.



The cost is estimated at between $4.4 million (for repairs and mandated AAB modifications) to $7 million (including minimum maintenance).   This is not an estimate for a renovation, but for simple repair and maintenance on a building that is now 50 years old, without updating along the way.


The result of this work will be updated infrastructure with 30% less usable space.


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Steps:Fix the front steps so they can be used.  (Basic maintenance)