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Commissioners to Discuss Future of Library

The Board of Commissioners has scheduled a Special Meeting of the Board to discuss and receive public input about the future of the Haverford Township Free Library.

Commissioners to Discuss Future of Library

The Board of Commissioners has scheduled a Special Meeting of the Board to discuss and receive public input about the future of the Haverford Township Free  Library. 

The meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room located behind the Township Building at 2325 Darby Road in Havertown. 

Members of the public will be permitted to speak at the meeting; the Board will not be voting on any proposals at the meeting, according to commissioner Dan Siegel.

C lick here to see the documents that contain the information presently known to and/or being considered by the Board. 


In an email to constituents, Siegel writes:

Since 2010, the Board has been evaluating options for the renovation or replacement of aging Township facilities that were not properly maintained by prior Boards. As a result, the Board's Property Committee made a series of presentations in which it recommended (in the following priority): 

  1. Replacing the Vehicle Maintenance Facility and updating the Public Works Yard.
  2. Replacing the Police Station and Township Building by constructing a new Municipal Services Building that would consolidate and house all Township administrative functions in one central facility.
  3. Consider replacing or repairing the Township Library.
    Click here to view all of the reports/presentations relating to the Library and the Municipal Services Building

 

Items 1 and 2 have and continue remain the Board's top priorities. In fact, the Board has (1) authorized the replacement of the Vehicle Maintenance Facility  and has borrowed the funds for its replacement, and (2) begun the process of seeking architects and contractors for the Municipal Services Building. These projects were approved by a large majority of the Board earlier this year. 

Library-Related Developments 

The condition of the library has deteriorated significantly, requiring the Property Committee to re-evaluate the future of the Library. The Property Committee unanimously believes that it will require a substantial investment to either repair or replace the Library, and these costs can no longer be ignored or deferred without placing the Library in jeopardy of closing. The Committee is not unanimous as to how to address this situation and is therefore presenting it to the Board and the public for comment.

 

Update - Current Library Status

Currently, the Library's Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) systems are:

  • 30+ years old
  • Inefficient
  • At the end of their useful lives (a useful life of 1 to 3 years)

In addition, emergency repairs are needed in the basement relating to electrical and other systems. Further, the Library is not fully Building Code compliant, is not fully ADA-compliant, has space deficiencies, and has limited parking and no safe drop-off zones.

Because of this situation, the Library has spent nearly 15% of the Township's annual library appropriation on maintenance and utility costs. Further, the cost of performing the MEP renovations is estimated at $1.5 million.

  

Library Options

Currently, the Board is trying to determine how to address the Library in the context of the proposed Municipal Services Building. There are two options:

  • Repair/renovate the existing facility    

or

  • Include the Library in the proposed Municipal Building

 

Advantages of Renovations

Renovations would provide improvements in:

  • Safety
  • Functionality
  • Productivity for staff
  • Meeting spaces and special purpose areas
  • Customer experience
  • Proximity to high school & middle school

 

Disadvantages of Renovations

Disadvantages of renovations include:

  • Space deficiencies (renovations must address current building design limitations)
  • There will continue be only 17 on-site parking spaces and 1 handicap parking spot
  • The building has Inefficient use of space
  • The building provides inefficient staff workflow logistics  
  • The Library is likely to be an ongoing drain on Library and Township funds because of its age and its lack of energy efficiency
  • The Library must close for 1 year for renovations
  • Renovation costs include $600,000 for ADA-compliant elevator

 

Advantages of New Facility

 A new facility offers the following advantages:

  • Taxpayer savings (maintenance, utilities & other costs)
  • Increased safety
  •  Increased security (attached to the Police Station)
  • The Library will be fully ADA compliant
  • It will be a State-of-the-Art Library
  • The Library will benefit from shared spaces and special purpose areas
  • The new Library will share in 322 available parking spaces (versus 17 spaces at the existing location)
  • The Library will be closer to some elementary schools, as well as playing fields, the Skatium, etc.
  • The Library will be adjacent to the connector trail with the YMCA & Paddock Farms area

 

Disadvantages of a New Location

The Committee has noted the following disadvantages of the new location:

  • There will be additional traffic pressures on the intersection of Darby and Manoa Roads
  • There will be a need to allocate the 322 parking spaces among users of the fields, the Township administrative use and the Skatium
  • The new Library is three blocks farther from the high school and middle school (approximately 50 to 75 high school and middle school students use the Library daily)

Options & Costs

 The options currently being considered are to either:

  • Repair/renovate the existing facility

or

  • Include the Library in the proposed Municipal Building 
The Board has not discussed, nor do I believe the Board supports, halting construction of the currently-planned Municipal Services Building. The current Board has acknowledged that it must address the current facility deficiencies. For example, the 1988 Comprehensive Plan stated that many Township facilities were created in the 1920s and were intended to serve a population of 6,000, not the current population of 50,000.

Renovating the Library  

The cost of renovating the Library is estimated at $5,510,670, excluding the costs (tangible and intangible) of closing the Library for one year.

Including the Library in the new Municipal Services Building

The cost of including the Library in the new Municipal Services Building is estimated at $7,167,600. However, this does not include the following items that should or may reduce the cost of the Library: 

  • Grants (estimated at between $500,000 and $1,000,000)
  • Proceeds from the sale of the existing Library (it was appraised at $1,200,000, including "exceptional assumptions" such as the dearth of parking)
  • The Library's contributions toward the cost of construction
  • The Library's separate fund-raising efforts 

Tax Consequences 

According to the Township Finance Director, the new Municipal Services Building will cost the average taxpayer $31 per year in additional taxes. If the cost of a new Library is included, the new Municipal Services Building will cost the average taxpayer $56 per year (an additional cost of $25 per year for the Library).

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