By Scott Sullivan
The Saugatuck-Douglas District Library is accepting bids through March 28 to build a new $4.35-million library approved by voters Aug. 7 last year. Notice is published elsewhere in this week’s paper.
Work must be done in accordance with bidding documents on file with construction manager The Skillman Corp. of Portage. They may be examined at skillmanplanroom.com.
A pre-bid conference will be held Monday, March 11, in the current library, 137 Center St., Douglas, at 2 p.m. Bidders’ attendance is optional but recommended in order to clarify or answer questions concerning the project manual and drawings.
Residents OK’d a 25-year, .4271-mill tax increase last summer, 1,377 yes votes to 768 no, to build a new 9,000-square-foot facility at 174 Center St., Douglas, across from the library’s current historic-but-antiquated home in an 1870s-built former church at Center and Mixer streets.
The 64-percent “yes” vote reversed voters’ response on an Aug. 5, 2014, request for a 26-year, 0.67-mill bond to build and equip a new 12,500-square-foot, $5.14-million library on the same parcel, 899 “no” votes to 550 “yes.” They rejected a paired 10-year, .3-mill increase for operations, 856 to 593.
Many who voted no then said they were not anti-library, but felt the proposal was over-ambitious and expensive. Some also objected to the board buying land beforehand.
The board’s 2014 capital campaign raised about $275,000, most of which went to purchase the lot on which the new library will stand, across Center and a half-block west from the current library.
The board’s second go-around last week was a more-modest request that resonated with most voters.
The new millage went into effect as part winter tax bills sent in December. For an average $300,000 district home, .4271 mills per $1,000 of valuation, equating to $54.07 per year or $5.34 a month, has been added to their assessments.
The Douglas Planning Commission Jan. 9 approved a site plan, with conditions, for the single-story, handicap accessible structure with amenities library board members say are needed for use in the 21st century.
The SDDL board says despite today’s eBooks and Internet, library use has increased significantly during recent years. In addition to borrowing books and DVDs, people rely on the library for free high-speed Internet, computer access, printing and faxing, educational programs and a quiet place to work and study.
Last year the SDDL saw 62,868 visitors, 62,125 total checkouts and 22,073 computer and WiFi sessions. The new building will allow staff to expand the array of community programs and events they offer.
Ownership of the old building will revert to the City of Douglas, which intends to preserve and adapt the structure to another public use.