North Branch Renovation History
WEBER COUNTY LIBRARY
Report to Stakeholders on North Branch Conceptual Plans
Mayors, council members, and other interested people living in the northern portion of Weber County attended the April 7, 2015, Board meeting, requesting that the North Branch Library be given to North Ogden City in exchange for the old public works site. Their reasoning was that this site could accommodate more parking, and perhaps eventually an opportunity to build a library with more public space. City officials acknowledged that, if a new building were to be constructed, it would initially be smaller than a renovated and expanded North Branch. If future funds become available, additions could be added in phases.
Those present at the April 7th meeting agreed that the North Branch should be a modern public library, not a book depository, and that it should accommodate all the programs and services as enjoyed by users of other Weber County libraries. The Library Board and City officials pledged to do additional fact finding, pursue private funding that could help make the new proposal become a reality, and then meet again to review the plan. (See minutes of this meeting.)
After the April 7th meeting, three months in time and bond money allocated to the North Branch building project was spent employing architects, engineers, and other professionals to review the proposal that North Branch be moved to a different site.
During a subsequent public meeting held July 7, 2015, experts reported on their fact-finding. After hearing these reports, and acknowledgments from both City officials and Board members that no major donors had been found to help cover the $3,500,000 in increased costs of moving to another site and constructing a 22,000 square foot library, the Board voted to leverage the available funding and expand the existing library to 24,000 square feet, rather than starting over. (See minutes of this meeting.)
Without the additional fiscal resources, the Board could not, in good faith, saddle the community with constructing a new library that would be too small the day it opened, and only a hope of acquiring additional future funding to expand the facility. They noted that the current North Branch opened in 1983, and the money to finally complete the ground level is only just now, 32 years later, becoming available. Both City and County officials reasoned that voters were not likely to approve another bond anytime soon.
The delay imposed by evaluating the proposed site change has put the North Branch project four months behind schedule. Architects now need to work quickly to get the renovation plans ready for bid. Time is money as building costs increased eight percent (8%) last year, and experts are projecting another five to eight percent (5-8%) increase again this year. If the project is not ready to bid until late 2016, additional building cost increases and the possibility of working under winter conditions will cut further into available funding.
The bottom line, as is always the case with any good business plan, is how can the best possible service be leveraged with a reasonable investment authorized by voters, or actually pledged by donors.
The Board reasoned that by investing the $5,000,000 available from the sale of publicly approved general obligation bonds into the current North Branch, the amount of useable space available can be doubled to approximately 24,000 square feet. It would cost the public more than twice the amount of money the Board is authorized to spend to start over and get a similar size building on the old public works site.
An additional consideration taken into account was that a year ago, the Library Board and County Commissioners adopted a “Shared Vision Statement” that included eventually constructing a library in northwestern Weber County. When this is accomplished, it will take a significant service load off North Branch.
Doubling the service area with the available funding is a good deal for investors (taxpayers).
City officials rightfully noted that there currently is not enough parking at North Branch. Lack of parking at North Branch, Main Library, and Ogden Valley Branch was a major consideration as the Library capital plan was envisioned.
The Town of Huntsville recently stepped forward and partnered with the Library Board to increase the amount of parking at Ogden Valley Branch. Improving parking at the Ogden Valley Branch was the first project completed under the Library Capital Improvement Plan. The Board is currently working with Ogden City to add additional parking at Main. During the July public meeting, EDA Architects presented a viable plan for a large number of additional parking places at North Branch, but the success of this plan requires that the City partner with the Board.
The Board is saving taxpayer money by partnering with cities and leveraging the value already in place as the result of previous investments. When North Branch is renovated, it will be a tremendous source of pride to the community.
Keep your eyes on this Web page as we continue working hard, and smart, to accomplish what is equitable, and possible. With a little help from our friends, the results are going to be thrilling.