$7 million bid awarded for new library headquarters

The Baltimore Sun

To give the Carroll County Public Library a more permanent home as the system expands, the county commissioners have awarded a nearly $7 million contract to transform the old New Windsor Middle School site into the new library headquarters over the next year.

Once renovated, the 42,000- square-foot, three-story space also will house the main servers powering the fiber-optic Carroll County Public Network, surplus space for county government offices and a community meeting room in the school's former dining hall, said Thomas J. Rio, chief of the county Bureau of Building Construction.

It is the first Carroll County government contract for Frederick-based Morgan-Keller Construction, whose winning bid came in $1 million under budget, Rio said.

"It's finally happening," Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said of renovating the mid-1930s school, where the county first planned to relocate the library's headquarters two years ago.

Morgan-Keller Construction, which Rio said hopes to land more building contracts in the county, also completed the 2002 renovation and addition at the C. Burr Artz Library in Frederick.

After 17 years of renting corporate space near the Carroll County Regional Airport, the library system will finally be housed in a county-owned facility when the headquarters is completed next summer.

It is hoped that the renovation will be finished by July 1, when the library's $255,000 annual lease for its 14,500 square feet of offices in the Westminster area is up, said Lynn Wheeler, the system's director.

"That's a lot of work that has to occur in the next 10 months," Wheeler said of the schedule for moving into the new space. "It's going to be really, really tight, but that's what the county would like to do."

As the new headquarters progressed, construction was just beginning on the system's sixth full-service library in Finksburg.

The $4.7 million, 15,000- square-foot Finksburg branch is scheduled to open next August, shortly after the new headquarters is completed, Rio said. Lukmire Partnership of Arlington, Va., is the architect, and Tech Contracting Co. Inc. of Annapolis is the builder.

The Finksburg library has been promoted as the county's first intentionally "green" building. Its environmentally conscious features will include a $7,000 solar water heater, which the county commissioners hope to pay for, in part, with a $1,400 Maryland Energy Administration grant.

The system will use a flat solar panel on the library's roof to power a 50-gallon electric water heater, Rio said. The library's interior will be heated and cooled with a geothermal system that uses ground temperatures to warm buildings in the winter and to transfer heat out during summer.

Energy-efficient geothermal systems also are being installed at the new Ebb Valley Elementary School and at the new South Carroll Senior Center, Rio said.

After a ceremonial groundbreaking at the start of last month, construction on the Finksburg library began in the past two weeks, Rio said.

Originally, the Carroll County Public Library hoped to move its headquarters onto the site of the new Finksburg branch, Wheeler said. But space was limited, and with no municipal sewer service available, a costly septic field would have been required, she said.

Renovation of the old New Windsor Middle School should begin in about a month, Rio said. The contractors will begin repairing the weathered roof so that work on the building can continue through the winter, he said.

Dick Lindsay, project manager for the county Bureau of Building Construction, has a more personal connection to the library headquarters renovation project, Rio said. Lindsay was a student at New Windsor Middle School.

The new headquarters will include "swing space" for the temporary relocation of government workers if their offices ever require extensive repairs or installations, Rio said.

In case of natural disaster, the county government complex could temporarily relocate from Westminster to the New Windsor site, he said.

Though county officials floated the idea of creating book checkout space for New Windsor and Union Bridge residents at the new headquarters, that option isn't included in the library's six-year plan, Rio said.

The only library in northwest Carroll is in Taneytown, where a 5,000-square-foot addition is being built.

In the three-story part of the school, which dates to 1935, an escalator will be installed where there are now stairs, Rio said. Two other one-story additions to the school date to 1950 and 1975.

"We're redoing all of it," Rio said. "We're making it all accessible."


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