(Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the proper spelling of Noah Cashman's name.)
The Northfield City Council weighed a proposal during its work session from the Northfield Public Library to renovate its space.
Library Board Chair Charlotte Carlson said the project is about working with the library’s resources for community needs, not just about revamping the building’s space.
“Rather than being driven by space as the goal, [our project] is driven by these core values that resonate with the mission of the library, and a sensible approach to the resource we currently have in the building, and looking forward,” Carlson said.
Library Director Teresa Jensen added the three main goals of the project were based on flexibility, accessibility and efficiency.
She pointed out several problems with the library’s current design, such as the cramped working space librarians need to share and the difficulty for some people to climb the library’s steps. She added that the library’s computers take up a lot of space, and the tight book aisles are difficult to navigate for people in wheelchairs.
While board members acknowledged the library building doesn’t have much space to expand, they said many of the project goals could be met through proper design of the workspace. Some suggestions included putting children’s areas shelves on wheels so the area could be rearranged for programming and redoing the front desk area for a better use of the space.
Fellow Library Board member Noah Cashman said the board is looking for $1 million from the city and hoping to supplement those funds with another $300,000 of Library gift funds.
Mayor Dana Graham said this budget is more doable than a previously proposed project that would have allocated $8-10 million for library renovations.
“I’m in support of this project, and personally I would support this up to the million dollars,” he said. He added, though, that the million dollar mark would need to be the limit and would need to include contingencies.
Cashman assured the council that the board thoroughly researched the project and has no plans to spend anything more than the $1.3 million.
“We’re not interested in going past that amount,” he said.
Carlson said the board hopes to start the project by April 1 and complete it by fall 2015. To ensure a speedy timeline, she asked the council to approve the funds as soon as possible.
“In order to do that, a lot has to be done very quickly, and we need to keep this project very much under control,” she said. “We feel very strongly as a board that this project can be done on time, in budget and stay within in the scope of the project.”
City councilors requested more information before making their decisions, but several voiced support of the project. They will vote on the proposed funds at a later meeting.
Grace Webb covers the cities of Northfield and Lonsdale, and writes about public safety. You can reach her at 645-1117.