Consultant, Dr. David Price, addressed the Sebastian County Library Board on Thursday and presented the final assessment of the branch in Greenwood and found that the library is in need of space and must be updated in order to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Price stated that the Library needs to expand to 10,000 square feet to accommodate the current population.
New Construction Option
“The ideal solution to this situation is to construct a new facility on county land in Greenwood,” said Price. The study found that the land suggested by County Judge David Hudson next to the courthouse is a possibility but that it is in a floodplain and would require “exceptional architectural solutions” to raise it above the 100 year floodplain levels. But that would at least alleviate the need to purchase land. The estimated cost of the county land solution is estimated at $1.9 million. In this scenario the old building would serve as the library’s administrative center.
Third Floor Option
Another option would be to expand the current building by adding a third floor to the building thereby increasing the current space by 2,500 sq. ft. bringing the total space to 7,500, still 2,500 sq. ft. short of the projected need. The additional 2,500 sq. ft. space would be used to expand the children’s library, and to add a small community room for library programs.
The third floor option would require a formal agreement with the First Baptist Church to share parking and would include an elevator and other upgrades to meet ADA requirement.
Existing Building Option
The final option proposed by Price would be to lease-purchase a current building in Greenwood possibly at the old Greenwood Fixtures Plant. This plan would also entail keeping the old building for an administrative center. “This option would provide immediate property availability, require major remodeling and would require provision of long term budget support through annual budget support from the Sebastian County Quorum Court,” said Price.
Aside from Greenwood the study also identified a need in Northwest Sebastian County near or in Barling. A branch of approximately 1,500 to 2,500 sq ft. is recommended, but that if an inter-library agreement between Fort Smith and the county libraries could be made it could eliminate this need. Barling had their own library at one point, however it was closed due to low usage.
The Sebastian County library services more than 90,000 visitors annually.
“I believe it is time for the Quorum Court and the Library Board to move forward with this project,” said Price. “The next steps will be for the library board to choose an option and seek a consultant to guide the project into the implementation stage of preparing a solid building program, and followed by the selection of an architect to design and to create renderings for public review, and to construct a scaled building model that is based up the building program.”
According to Price, once these steps are taken the process of financing, design development, construction bids and construction can begin.
Earlier this year the Greenwood Democrat introduced a series of stories about the South Sebastian County Libraries.
The main branch of the library in Greenwood was built in 1966 and has remained largely the same, out of compliance and in need of an update.
The building is 5,780 square feet and can become quite cramped during special events such as the library’s summer reading program and is not ADA compliant without handicapped access to the building, bathrooms or the second floor.
The Sebastian County Quorum Court earmark $600,000 over ten years ago to go toward the construction of a new library once plans were presented to them. Since that time the funds have remained in waiting for the needs assessment to be presented.
In a report submitted by Judge Hudson he states that a possible location for a future library could be in the parking lot east of the Sebastian County Courthouse, which is in a floodplain. “You can build in floodplains,” the report states. “This parking lot site provides adequate space to build a library. The constraints put upon building in a floodplain vary from municipality to municipality. Some require you to be one foot above with your finished floor which is pretty common. Some require that you fill or do drainage impact statements and then possibly require dirt work. Other standards require retention ponds or impoundments. The specific Greenwood requirements for construction on that site have not been obtained at this time.”
Currently the library receives approximately $14,000 from county sales taxes and the millage brings in approximately $220,000 a year. The millage can only be used for operation and maintenance and cannot be used for constructing a new building.