Tell Us More About the Library Project!

If you would like a question answered about the Athol Public Library expansion/renovation project, please email or send to: 568 Main Street, Athol, MA 01331 and we’ll answer your question in a future column!

Question: I suppose this will involve more staff, how much will that cost?

Actually this building was designed specifically for clear lines of sight to work with the staff we already have.  The instructions to the architect were quite explicit that the current staff would have to be able to man the new building.  To that end, he placed the staff operations in the middle of the building with adult staff on the top floor and the children’s staff on the ground floor.  With glass doors and windows (all energy efficient of course), the current roster of library employees will be able to supervise all areas of the library. 

The only exception looking into the future might be janitorial as we now have a 15 hour a week custodian who already has a big job with the amount of traffic in the building daily.  Assuming a new building is easier to clean will make it easier though in the short term.   

If the new library becomes even more popular and the public is demanding more hours, the Trustees would certainly take a look at the situation.


Question: Many of these town projects seem to go over budget.  How can we be sure that this one won’t? 

I asked our project manager Richard Thuma of Bargmann, Hendrie and Archetype to respond to this issue.  Here is his response:

Budgets are just that, budgets.  They are proxies for future costs that are used to set aside monies to pay designers and contractors; to buy furniture and technology; and to account for all the myriad items that are necessary to turn a project vision into bricks and mortar reality.  At their worst, they are guesses.  At their best, they are reasonable projections of cost that are informed by detailed information and hard-won experience. 

The budget for the Athol Public Library is, first and foremost, complete.  It contemplates each significant element of the project:  procuring design and management services; preparing the design of the renovation and addition; garnering permit approvals from local, state and federal authorities; publicly bidding construction work; relocating the existing operation to temporary quarters during the project; abating hazardous materials; renovating the existing building; constructing the addition; specifying and buying furniture; advertising; printing copies of bid documents; legal expenses; and, most importantly, reasonable contingencies for costs that can never be completely anticipated. 

Each cost item within the budget has, wherever possible, been based on quality information:  a detailed schematic design by the architect that is used to generate a quantity-based construction cost estimate that is then compared against similar library project costs to assess its reasonableness and completeness; a furniture layout that has been reviewed and priced by a library furniture vendor; discussions with moving companies to anticipate the cost of packing, moving, unpacking, repacking and moving back all of the contents of the current building;  and on and on. 

Holes have been drilled in the ground, materials have been sampled and tested for hazardous chemicals, thousands of things have been counted and measured and priced and counted again and re-priced.  But all of that is not enough.  A plan has been put in place to ready-check each procurement before it is bought so that deficiencies or duplications or contradictions in the bidding documents can be identified and corrected before they are seen by the marketplace, to take full advantage of competition and assure that Athol receives best-value for its tax-dollars.  And, after all those things, contingency has been added.

Athol has been rigorous in developing the library budget.  It has hired professionals, each with significant Massachusetts public library experience, to design the project and manage its implementation.  It has been careful in considering a process to check the quality and completeness of bidding documents.  It has been thoughtful in writing its agreement with the designer to require redesign without additional cost if the pricing comes in over budget.  And it has been conservative in its budget assumptions.

There are possibly circumstances under which the current budget could come under pressure, but it is without question that a complete library project, which will be the pride of Athol for decades to come, can be had for the budget that is at hand.

Thank you Dick for your answer to our question!