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City presses forward with plans for a new library

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By Natasha Colbaugh

Proposals for a new LaFollette Public Library have had its ups and downs. The council’s plans to construct a new library over the past few years have been recycled and reworked. Though USDA grant money was offered with steep stipulations, the council decided to press forward to renovate the recreation center with city employees executing the work.

The city sent a letter to the state agriculture department, declining the grant money of $200,000 with the attached $1 million loan. Rather than take out an additional loan for the library, interim city administrator Cade Sexton requested the council’s approval to renovate the community center into a library at the council workshop last week.

“(We can) gut the rec. center, because nothing is going on there, and put a library over there,” said Sexton. “Phase two maybe do an addition.”

The goal is to spend less than $250,000 for the renovations, according to Sexton.

Along with plans to do an in-house project, the city reviewed a proposal from MHM Architects and interior designers to oversee the plans.

“I think that you ought to consider signing up for $27,000 for them to oversee this project,” said Sexton.

MHM Director Jeff Johnson said the city would get a full set of architectural drawings, and full involvement in the construction process.

“If something happens to the building we’re responsible for it not the city of LaFollette,” said Johnson.

Bids, pricing requirements, mechanical, structural and electrical engineering consultants will all be at the disposal of the city through the process based on the proposal.

“I think we can do a lot in house,” said Sexton.

The recreation center is approximately 4,000 square feet. It would be renovated to appropriately house a new library facility, according to the proposal.

The council approved the consulting proposal from MHM, during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

After the meeting, LaFollette Library Director Nancy Green said the recreation center is 4,000 square feet, approximately 2,200 square feet less than is required for the LaFollette population. However, the recreation center has more space than the current library and would be an adequate facility to renovate, said Green.