Library board chair explains expansion costs

Letter to the Editor

Thank you, fellow residents, and visitors to Prince Edward County! You have helped us make progress with our plans for the expansion and renovation of the Picton branch of our PEC library system.

You may know your library board went before council on Sept. 12 to ask for approval to start construction, which we did not receive. A recurring question was “how did your budget increase from $2 million to $2.7 million?”

A little background may be helpful here. About five years ago, the library considered a modest expansion to add street accessible public washrooms to the building and do some additional renovation; the budget for that was approximately $800,000. For various reasons, the board decided not to proceed. But discussions continued about the lack of space in the building, and the age of the systems serving it.

Eventually, the board asked County residents what they wanted from the Picton Branch, by way of focus groups and various surveys. You told us that the Carnegie library should be retained and upgraded. It was pointed out that more meeting space was required, quiet study space and improved washrooms were needed, including washroom facilities on the main floor. Additional collection space was a priority with enough room between shelves to browse in comfort.

The initial budget for that was about $1.2 million. However, soil conditions caused further changes to the plans. A slab to support the addition was necessary, and the decision was taken by the board to enclose that area, and make use of it as program space, referred to by some as an ‘auditorium’.

To get the project moving forward, we needed to set a “budget”, and we conservatively estimated $2 million should serve. As anyone who has ever built anything knows, (be that a house, a business, a hotel or anything else), preliminary budgets are just that, best guesses at the time.

Once our plans were finalized we were able to go to tender and get real construction costs. But just to get to that point we needed to spend money on consultants and studies: mechanical and electrical, heritage impact assessment and planning approval, a storm water report, nature impact assessment by Quinte Conservation, structural design and architect’s fees. The cost of those preliminary steps has been $238,220. There are items that are not included in construction costs, such as Hydro hook up, fixtures, furnishings, cabinetry, masonry repair and insulation, adding $112,824 to the cost. Taxes are $47,103.30.

In sum, with the tender bid of $2,325,280, (which includes $288,000 in costs and contingency allowances, which may or may not be spent), the total amount we need to give you, the residents of PEC, the Picton Branch you asked for, is $2,723,427.

We, your board, are committed to raising the money we need to give you the library you asked for, which we expect will serve you well for generations to come.

Respectfully yours,
Devon Jones
County of Prince Edward Public Library Board Chair