By SAMANTHA PIDDE
A design-build construction contract was signed last week to move forward with the Mount Carroll District Library's multi-million dollar expansion project.
Mount Carroll District Library Board trustees and others have been working for the past few years on the expansion project, which will add 7,289 square feet of library space, address ADA accessibility, add modern restrooms, and rehabilitate the historic Carnegie building portion while maintaining its historic integrity.
In February 2020, the library board, through a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process, selected Winter Construction of Freeport to provide the design-build services for the project.
The library board met Saturday, Dec. 11, to officially approve and sign the contract with Winter Construction. The contract — including design fees for work already completed by the company — was for $2,606,992.50.
The project is being funded through a $1.15 million Illinois State Library Public Construction Grant as well as a match from the library. Library Board President Laurel Bergren said more than 204 individuals along with the City of Mount Carroll contributed approximately $1.19 million to project.
Bergren said costs have increased, causing the board to look at slight changes to the design, such as modifications to sprinkler plans, flooring changes, choosing a different HVAC system, and eliminating landscaping and seeding from the project.
Bergren said the board has spent the past few months working with Scott Winter on cost effective decisions to ensure the library gets the "most bang for our buck."
Bergren told The Mirror-Democrat last week that so far the library has been fortunate that while wood and dry wall material costs have increased significantly, steel and glass costs, which are major components for the design, have not increased as much yet. She said the board wanted to sign the contract and lock in the prices before these material costs did increase.
With construction costs totaling more than the planned $2.3 million, the library board has also approved borrowing as much as $250,000 as a "line of credit" from the First State Bank of Shannon-Polo. According to Bergren, this will operate as a five-year "balloon" up to the $250,000.
With the contract being signed last Saturday, Dec. 11, Bergren said the next step is developing construction documents. In order to be more cost efficient, construction will begin in April 2022 instead of now. Bergren said construction is expected to take six months, with the completion date in October 2022.
Bergren confirmed that fundraising will continue, noting that the construction does not include furniture and fixture costs. This cost is estimated at $125,000, with almost $75,000 of that just for bookcases.
Bergren expressed confidence that the library will be able to raise the additional money, saying "We'll get there.”
The Mount Carroll District Library building, partially funded by Andrew Carnegie, was built in 1907.
"Although well-maintained, the building has not been upgraded or modernized over the years," said Bergren. "Besides space, accessibility and climate control requirements, public needs greatly exceed those of 1907."
More information on the project can be found on the library's website, https://mountcarrollpubliclibrary.org.