Calloway County Public Library

The expansion of the Calloway County Public Library in Murray may have run into some delays because of construction costs.

MURRAY – The nationwide high prices and shortages of building materials could have a negative impact on the Calloway County Public Library’s expansion plans, the project director told the board of trustees Tuesday.

The CCPL Board of Trustees voted in February to approve a revised expansion plan that was estimated to cost roughly $7.3 million. The library’s current square footage totals 12,047, and the proposal approved by the board would add an additional 19,828 feet for a total of 31,875 square feet. The plan also includes 1,886 square feet in exterior covered areas. This expansion would multiply the library’s existing total square footage by roughly 2.65, or approximately 164.6% more than the building currently has.

In his update on the expansion project during this week’s board meeting, Chris Cottongim, president of the Louisville-based 5253 Design Group, said his staff members are finishing the drawings for the plans. He said he would be meeting soon with CCPL Director Mignon Reed and Business Manager Wyneth Herrington to review the bid invitation. A pre-bid meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. June 17, and Cottongim said they would meet with potential contractors interested in bidding to walk them through the project.

“This project being a fairly good size, this pre-bid will probably take about an hour or so,” Cottongim said. “Most pre-bids are fairly quick, but this will take a while because it’s a lot to go over and there’s a lot of moving parts. We are attempting to put together a phasing schedule for the contractors to understand (the library is) to stay open at all cost and try to make sure that everything goes smoothly. So we’ve put that phasing schedule together and we’ll review that with the contractors, and I’m sure that will bring up a lot of questions.” 

Cottongim said the bid opening is scheduled at the library for 11 a.m. July 8. At that time, bids will be accepted and read aloud, he said.

Then Cottongim got to the bad news. He had reminded the board in previous meetings that his cost estimates for the project could change quite a bit depending on fluctuations in the cost of building materials, so the only number that truly matters is the final bid the board will eventually accept. Unfortunately, he said that might turn out to be even more true than he realized months ago when the board approved the current plan.

“I have some news that is not really good that I received in the last couple of weeks,” he said. “Some of our steel vendors, steel suppliers and insulation suppliers can’t even get materials. That’s not good for us. So I don’t know what’s going to happen on bid day, to be honest with you, so just be prepared for everything. The good news is, you’re not spending a penny on bid day. You’re just accepting bids and understanding where the project is. If it’s out of grasp and we think it’s just because we can’t get hold of materials, there’s no reason we can’t delay. There’s no reason we can’t hold off. There’s nothing here that says at this point that you’re spending this money on this library project. We could delay a little while; maybe we need to make a couple of cuts and we can get it in the budget and then we could go ahead and rebid it. 

“We’ll just know more on July 8. Right now, it’s just such a volatile time for construction. Wood studs were way high (when the board approved the current plan in January), metal was still low and metal studs were low, but that’s not the case anymore. Now it’s gone through the roof. And we’ve got a metal roof on this entire project. I know that doesn’t seem like a confident statement, but at this point, we’ve worked really hard, and you have too, and I think we just need to keep moving forward. Let’s get that bid in, and we’ll see where we are and we’ll make some adult decisions on those bids.”


In other business:

• The board also voted to approve the demolition of the former Southern Family Dental building next to the library, which the board voted to purchase in November. The bid came in at $6,400 from Parker Excavating of New Concord.

• The board discussed applications to fill two trustee vacancies that had expired in recent months, and Board Chair Riley Ramsey said he and fellow trustee Debbie Bell had both reapplied to stay on the board. As it turned out, theirs were the only applications the library had received.

Kentucky law requires library boards to fill vacancies by taking applications and submitting two nominees for each vacancy to KDLA. After KDLA reviews the nominations, the names are then sent to the county judge-executive so the judge and fiscal court members can select the person to fill the seat. Reed said she had asked the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives how she needed to proceed with only two applicants for each of the two vacancies, and she was told to simply send those names over to the agency for review.

• Circulation Manager Sierra Foster updated the board on its new hours as COVID-19 restrictions continue being relaxed across Kentucky. The library is now open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Starting next week, June 19, the library will once again be open to the public on Saturdays. The hours will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Reed said she hoped to eventually build back to being open on Sundays again, but she was not yet sure when that might happen.

• The board also heard from Mark Rawlings from the Baird financial firm about a proposed financial planning policy. The board voted to approve the policy, which makes the library’s contingency fund more transparent in terms of exactly how the money is designated.