March 20, 2009

New Fairplay library taking shape
Architect OK'd by commissioners, land sale expected May 1

By Josh Paul Seidler-Correspondent

FUTURE HOME FOR THE NEW FAIRPLAY LIBRARY

At center is the South Park Recreation Center in north Fairplay. The new library will be situated just to the right of the existing structure, once the land is purchaseci from the South Park-Park and Recreation District. (Photo by Josh Paul Seidler/The Flume)

Library director Patty Chapman has spent three and a half years working toward a new library building in Fairplay, and now the project is gathering steam.

Chapman told the Park County commissioners at their March 12 meeting that an architect has been selected, and a deal on the land for the new library building is expected to close May 1.

As previously reported in the Jan. 30 Flume, the South Park - Park and Recreation District board of directors voted at a Jan. 27 evening meeting to sell an acre of land on the northwest corner of the rec district's property for $100,000 to the South Park Friends of the Fairplay Library.

Chapman said the urgency for a new library building became more apparent in October of 2008 when Park County Chief Building Official Greg Kimsey looked at the existing library on Main St. and "red-tagged it because the weight of the books was causing the floor to sink and there were some very valid concerns of safety."

The commissioners approved the selection of Boulder-based Arch 11 as architect for the project. Arch 11 was chosen by a selection committee after weeks of thorough interviews and consultations. According to Colorado law, a competitive bidding process is not necessary for professional services because there is usually more at stake than just cost. In effect, however, the selection committee did go through a bidding process.

The new building is expected to be 22,000 square feet to 24,000 square feet and will incorporate offices for the Park County Department of Human Services, Park County Department of Public Health, as well as the Fairplay-based nonprofit Park County Senior Coalition.

Three phases

Arch 11 will oversee three phases of the project.

The first and second phases, which include marketing, interior design, exterior design, landscape design, and engineering drawings, have a deadline of June 30, 2009.

Fees for those services will be slightly more than $202,000, but funds are already available to pay that cost. Of that amount, $30,000 will be paid by the Park County Department of Human Services, as it will be getting offices in the new building, and the remaining $172,000 will be covered by a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

Phase three for Arch 11 will entail administration of the project once actual construction begins.

Total costs for construction of the facility are estimated to be $3.25 million, but Chapman thinks they will probably be less than $3 million.

No county tax money

Park County will not be asked for funding. Rather, the money will be raised by the Friends of the Library from grants or donations from such foundations as the Boettcher Foundation, the Gates family, Daniels Fund, the Senior Coalition, and Department of Public Health (through grants). Chapman thinks the fundraising efforts will take about a year, so the new library should be completed in late 2010 or early 2011.

Location

The new building will be on a 1.07-acre tract of land adjacent to the South Park Recreation Center, which is at the north end of Fairplay just off U.S. 285, where Bullett Road intersects County Road 3. The commissioners considered a purchase agreement to buy the parcel from the South Park - Park and Recreation District for Park County at their March 12 meeting.

County Attorney Lee Phillips presented the commissioners with a contract to buy the real estate for $100,000.

Chapman clarified that the $100,000 would not be coming from county taxpayers, but rather from the Conservation Trust Fund, one of the funds that directs net proceeds from the Colorado Lottery to local governments.

Chapman told The Flume that it was decided that county ownership from the beginning would be beneficial because county insurance could be used. The Friends of the Fairplay Library will use their money to try to get matching grants.

Contingencies

The contract contained two contingencies: First, the 4.7 acres the Rec Center sits on would have to be subdivided so the county could buy the 1.07 acre tract. Second, a potential issue regarding title interests would have to be ironed out.

The Fanning family, which initially donated the land for the Rec Center, still has its name showing up as an exception in the title insurance commitment. Security Title is addressing the issue with the hope that the Fannings will be able to execute a "quitclaim deed" that would simply waive any interest in the property.

Parking

While discussing the contract, the commissioners discovered a third potential contingency: parking.

Chapman said the architect had talked about having private parking in the back of the building for employees and Human Services clients, who want privacy, and then sharing the Rec Center’s existing parking. “This parking is not used to the best advantage,” she said. Arch 11 would help reconfigure the lot for more spaces.

Additionally Chuck Pisano, attorney for the South Park — Park and Recreation District, said, “There will be an agreement in place where the library and the Rec Center will be sharing some parking area.”

However, the commissioners were still concerned that the contingency wasn’t in the contract. “We don’t want to buy a piece of property we can’t use because we don’t have any parking,” said Commissioner John Tighe.

So the commissioners decided to wait until their meeting on March 19 to approve the contract.

Still, Chapman and the commissioners are hoping to close on the property this coming May 1.

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