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Joplin seeking bids to progress library project - KOAM TV 7

Joplin seeking bids to progress library project

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Joplin, MO - Work continues on the development of the new library that will be located at the northeast corner of 20th and Connecticut Streets. Currently, the City of Joplin and designated Project Development Manager, CBC Real Estate Group “CBC” are seeking qualifications from architectural firms for an approximate 50,000 to 60,000 square foot facility.

“Once on board, the design firm will provide the conceptual plan of the library complex, as well as assist with incorporating the programming needs of the facility,” said Tony Robyn, Joplin's Disaster Recovery Coordinator. “In keeping with modern library facilities, libraries have moved beyond just traditional printed materials, but also require numerous other digital and media amenities that patrons require and have requested during the information gathering process with the community.”

Jacque Gage, Executive Director of the Joplin Public Library, recognizes and understands the many needs and desires of the patrons. Currently the library is limited to 35,000 square feet, does not meet ADA compliance, and is landlocked from any expansion at its current location in the 300 block of South Main Street. She plans to work closely with the firm to address the areas popular in the current location, as well as add new features and spaces for today's generation and those in the future.

She explained, “For example, the Library recently joined the Family Place Library network, and we will incorporate the necessary space to implement this program successfully.” The Family Place program's goal is to increase the role of the public library as a community hub for healthy child and family development, parent and community involvement, and lifelong learning that begins at birth.

Another area needing more space is the library's book collection. In the current library, many of the shelves are full, including those nearest the floor. Gage says this is very inconvenient for patrons, especially those who are older.

In addition, the current library is not compliant with the American Disabilities Act, and library leadership is eager to address those needs to provide more space for disabled patrons to utilize the library efficiently without worries of shelf height or aisle space. “The library was built before ADA went into effect,” she said. “All involved with this project look forward to building a new facility to allow everyone access to the facility's resources.”

Another concern that will be alleviated with a new location is parking. Currently the parking lot easily fills up on a daily basis, and Gage says there is not enough overflow parking in the area for patrons during special events that draw large crowds. A land survey indicated that the Library is “land locked” and cannot expand in its current location.

“By relocating to this open space, we can have a large parking lot with adequate space, as well as additional disabled parking for our patrons. Plus we'll be more centrally located. Close proximity to the Joplin High School will also help students needing Wi-Fi access for homework and special projects during after school hours.”

Computer usage has gained a significant amount since the current Library began offering computers for public use more than twenty years ago. “We've expanded that area several times, and by doing so, we've pushed out the quiet spaces, the small group tables and work areas.” The new facility will be equipped to handle the growing demands of technology while still allowing space for the other uses.

“Many things have changed since the current library was built,” she said. “A library is a great community resource and should provide the services and features the public needs. As we move forward on this new facility, the community input we've received is invaluable to this process.”

Gage said she is available to meet with community and/or civic groups to provide more details about the need for a new facility. Interested persons should contact her at the Library by calling 417-623-7953.

Robyn is accepting the sealed bids from the architectural firms until November 24, 2014. “Once we review the submissions and make our selection, we'll begin the design process,” he said. “We are excited about getting this project underway. It is centrally located in the recovery area, and we anticipate that a modern library program like this will help drive overall redevelopment along the 20th Street corridor and become another important asset for the area.” Plans also include connecting the library and overall development into the city trail system and may include a “pocket park”, a small public accessible park for community use and library programming.

Originally this project was included in a mixed use development planned by the city's master developer, however, earlier this year the City and master developer decided to separate the two projects due to the complexities of structuring multiple funding sources. The Library project is a partnership with the Economic Development Administration, which awarded a $20 million grant to assist the commercial redevelopment of this area following the 2011 disaster. The City's 20% required match is $5 million for the project and comprised of city-owned land value and some Tax Increment Financing funds. The master developer's adjacent commercial development is largely privately funded and design work has been underway for some months with multiple neighborhood meetings already held gathering input. “Regardless of being funded separately, the two developments are still integral to the larger redevelopment plan,” Robyn said.

Now that EDA required project details are in place, and once construction begins in 2015, Robyn anticipates that the Library project be completed within 12-18 months. Bid details can be found on the city's website.

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