Bids comes in under budget, allowing added features for new building

CHAMPAIGN – Bids for the new $29.4 million Champaign Public Library have come in lower than projected, allowing the library board to go with some building features that had been dropped to stay within budget.

Library Director Marsha Grove said that when the bid packages were opened earlier this month, they cumulatively came in about $1 million under estimates, though she did not have exact dollar figures.

"This was excellent news," she said. "It's a great position to be in."

Several of the approved construction packages had alternate bids with additional features in case the basic bids were lower than anticipated. The library board upgraded its plan with some of the alternates, Grove said.

Features added include a conveyor system for returned items that will take books at both the indoor and outdoor dropoff areas to an automatic sorting area in the basement; automatic window shades; an upgrade in landscaping that includes an irrigation system; security cameras throughout the building; and a higher-quality roof coating.

The library board also retained a meeting-room pavilion on the east side of the building, a large meeting room that can be divided into smaller meeting rooms and a conference room, Grove said. The library's coffee shop will be a part of the pavilion.

The board instructed architects to come back with cost estimates for additional library features. It will consider those items at its Jan. 19 or Feb. 16 meeting, depending on how quickly the estimates can be produced.

Items that might be added include wider sidewalks along the east side of the new library, from 5 feet to 8 feet; limestone in a third exterior wall of the meeting room pavilion; upgrading ceiling tile in the staff areas; and adding more glass walls outside the conference and group study rooms, making it easier for library staff to oversee them.

Library board President Rusty Freeland said the board was pleased the features can be added to the new library, which is already under construction just north of the old one at 505 S. Randolph St. and is expected to be completed in mid-2007.

"Everything seems to be flowing very smoothly right now, with the project and with the reoriented existing library building," he said.

The new facility will be 122,600 square feet, triple the current library.

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