The Dougherty County Central Library in downtown Albany is currently undergoing renovations. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)
ALBANY — As Architect Bob Kidd discussed a possible change order that would pave the way for exterior work to begin on the Central Library renovation project with the Dougherty County Library Board at a special called meeting Tuesday evening, Board Chairman Walter Kelley threw in a friendly reminder.
“We want the most bang for our buck, but one thing cannot change,” Kelley said. “There is no more money. Period. I will not go back to the county and ask for one nickel over our budget.”
Kelley could have saved his breath.
“We’ve made certain everybody understands that,” Kidd said. “That’s been our mantra throughout this project: ‘On or under budget.’ Everybody is aware of that.”
That aim was at risk when initial cost estimates for the exterior work came in from Bainbridge-based builder PDC Construction. Kidd, the CEO of Columbus-based Hecht Burdeshaw Architects, said PDC’s estimate for the exterior work came in at $631,136, slightly more than the $625,558 that is expected to be available once interior renovations are completed.
“That,” Kidd told the board, “does not include the upper lights that you’ve indicated you wanted. Those would add an additional $16,891 to the cost.”
But Kidd came to the called meeting with an alternate plan. He showed board members samples of a synthetic stucco material that he offered as a viable — and less expensive — alternative to the stone-based material that was originally designed to be used at the base of the structure.
“The appearance, including the detailing, would remain intact,” Kidd said. “Frankly, you will not be able to tell the difference. But the cost would go down considerably. If you go with the stucco finish, the cost would come in at $592,197. I’m sure you can do the math and see that we would have more than enough money to go back and add the upper lighting that you wanted.”
Kelley, fellow board members Brenda Hodges-Tiller, Karen Liebert and Haryl Dabney, as well as Library Director Pauline Abidde, questioned Kidd extensively about the stucco material, and he assured them that the product would be as durable as the stone-based material.
“There’s no way anyone could tell you truthfully — unless he has a very close relationship with the Good Lord — that there would never be a crack in the materials,” Kidd said. “But it will stand up to the weather conditions, and it does come with a warranty. I might add that repairs are harder on the original material.
“The change has gotten the OK of the Historic Preservation folks, so my recommendation to you is that you approve this change order. If you do, I’ll work up a detailed formal request for Pauline to sign. Then we can get started.”
Kidd said the exterior work, which was not part of the original special tax-funded renovation project but was added when the project came in under budget, would add an addditional four months to the project, which is now expected to be finished in July.
After the meeting, Abidde said she’s excited to get the construction plan in place.
“It’s a done deal now. We’re ready to move forward right away,” she said.
Abidde also said the library system is in the final stages of preperation to re-open the Westtown Library Branch. Books, shelving and equipment have already been moved to the location.
“We’re taking care of a few last-minute details that are beyond our control,” the library director said. “We’ll have an open house and show off the facility to our county officials — who have been so supportive in our efforts to get the branch re-opened. Then we’ll open the doors. There’s a lot of excitement in that neighborhood around Westtown, a lot of people coming by to check on our progress.”