After spending nearly $2 million on an extensive renovation of the Sherman Public Library, the city ended up only about $14,000 over budget on the project.
The Sherman City Council recently approved a $77,836.37 change order and final payment on the renovation project after the city elected to upgrade the building’s technology and security features. Assistant City Manager Steve Ayers said the need for those upgrades came to light after four fires were intentionally set in the library in April 2017, shortly after work got underway on the project.
“Going into this, we assumed with a 45-year-old building that was burned out that there’s going to be some things that are going to come up that you don’t know until you tear into the building,” Ayers said of why the project ended up over budget. “I think the arson kind of brought to light some things we wanted to do as far as security. We elected to go ahead and do that now during the project.”
In addition to the technology and security upgrades, Ayers said crews found asbestos that needed to be removed and issues with water, sewer and electric utilities.
“Rather than put a Band-Aid on some things, because of the age, we chose to go ahead and upgrade,” Ayers said.
The change order brought the final price for the renovation project to $1,970,678.30. City staff explained the construction budget included a 3 percent contingency for overages, but the final cost was $14,155.37 over that budget.
“We went in with a 3 percent contingency for these issues, we ended up at 3.7 percent,” Ayers said. “We went over by 0.7 percent, which as the project manager, I thought that was pretty good considering the 45 year old building.”
The council approved the change order and final payment on the project unanimously, though council member Willie Steele was absent from the meeting.
“Speaking for Willie, I hate to see an increase in these change orders, but I will say from experience that 3.7 percent on a project that size is below standard for the industry,” council member Jason Sofey said.
The council approved the renovation to the library two years ago, and work included the demolition of a 3,364-square-foot addition on the building’s south side, a new roof and mechanical system for the entire building, as well as a new fire alarm system, restroom layout and shelving.
Sherman originally planned to keep the library open during the renovations but instead moved to a temporary location at 1000 N. East Street after the fires. Ahead of the main library’s reopening on Aug. 13, Library Services Administrator MeLissa Eason said a lot of the setup in the remodeled building was done by volunteers from the Sherman Service League, Friends of the Sherman Public Library, library board members and regular patrons while staff members worked at the temporary location.
“We’ve had a few people that have been here almost every day,” Eason said. “If it wasn’t for the volunteers, these books would not have gotten put on the shelves as quickly.”
The remodeled library also features a dedicated children’s area, new drive-thru book return, a public meeting room — with kitchen space — that can be split into two smaller rooms and new computers.
City staff proposed the addition of a small park and gazebo to the library’s grounds as part of the upcoming fiscal year 2018-2019 budget. During the council’s budget workshop in June, Parks and Recreation Manager Theresa Hutchinson showed a picture of a pavilion that would provide seating and shade, as well as an area with outdoor musical instruments on small stands for children.
Eason said the outdoor area has been a longtime wish of library staff and patrons.
“We thought it would be nice to have a gazebo,” Eason said in June. “I had seen the musical instruments at other libraries other places, so I wanted to take those two elements and make a good outdoor space that we could do programming and that kids could just come out and play.”
She said the plan is to also have plants around the gazebo that will attract butterflies, similar to what the Dallas Public Library does.