The Summit Board of County Commissioners have decided on an expansion of the north branch of the Summit County Library in Silverthorne that would add as much as an additional 4,900 square feet for children’s space, a new entrance, outdoor deck space, private meeting rooms and expanded adult reading space.
The commissioners agreed the project should be designed to fit a $3.2 million budget. Construction of the project could begin in 2022.
On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Vega Architecture Managing Principal David Grooms presented three options for the library expansion to the commissioners. Option A followed the original $2 million budget plan and focused on the internal function of the library. Option B would add 2,400 square feet to the library, increasing space in the teen and young adult area and adding improvements to the outdoor space. The cost for option B was estimated at $2.4 million.
Option C would add 4,900 square feet to the building, increasing the library’s total size to 12,000 square feet. The expansion would add to the children’s area, provide more meeting and reading spaces, and increase outdoor and covered outdoor library program spaces. The cost of option C came in between $3.2 million and $3.8 million.
“This plan really contemplates a much more full remodel of the interior space,“ Grooms said. ”For the most part, everything on the inside, with a couple of exceptions, has been substantially renovated with the goal that when this is completed it really feels almost like a new library.“
Grooms explained that option B was designed to align with the 10-year growth plan for the area’s population, while option C met the 20-year plan. He said option C would require more time for design, and there would be a longer construction timeline.
Commissioners decided on a version of option C that, at least in the design phase, reasonably met a $3.2 million budget. They agreed that the budget should be met even if some square footage or amenities had to be cut. The Summit County Library Foundation has a goal to contribute $1 million in fundraising for both the Silverthorne library project as well as a smaller improvement project at the main location in Frisco.
Library Director Stephanie Ralph pointed out that in addition to building the expansion, additional costs to run a larger library would be incurred as part of the project. She noted that option C would require at least one additional full-time employee working 40 hours per week.
Assistant County Manager Sarah Vaine said the feedback the county has received regarding community needs from the Summit School District and the Family & Intercultural Resource Center called for more meeting spaces and children’s programming.
In response to Commissioner Joshua Blanchard’s question on which option better met the current needs of the library, Ralph said option C would give a “sense of the value of libraries” with the opening of the entrance area, outdoor decks and increased meeting spaces. She added that option B is a scaled down version of C with similar qualities, and would still provide more than is currently offered at the library.
Commissioner Tamara Pogue said she preferred option C as there is unmet need to the north end of the county, and she would not want to pass up an opportunity to build a bigger facility that could help meet those needs. Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said she would lean towards option B due to concerns about increased cost and a lengthier construction timeline.
Blanchard said he would be more comfortable adopting a threshold budget that may put the expansion somewhere between options B and C.
“This is not something, given the circumstances we’re in, that I feel comfortable with Summit County doing a blank check and saying, ‘Let’s move toward option C. As costs come in it gets higher, we’re just going to absorb those costs,’” Blanchard said. “I don’t think that is the financially responsible way to approach it.”
Commissioners agreed on designing the project to fit a $3.2 million budget utilizing most of the components of option C.