Bellaire city council members were not in agreement over the cost of renovating the city library during its Monday night meeting.
Council approved, four-to-three, entering into a contract agreement of $50,000 with Pierce Goodwin Alexander & Linville (PGAL) for design services for the city library.
Several improvements to the library have been recommended to bring the building up to code. Council is looking at renovating the building because the funds are not available for a rebuild.
Director of Facilities Management Karl Miler presented the suggested improvements to council.
The proposed renovations for the library will cost an estimated $833,082.
Friends of the library are proving $15,000 for a new circulation desk.
A grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide more than $57,000 for a new boiler and air handler.
Some of the upgrades include: replacing the outside deck, remodeling the vestibule to allow for better traffic flow, making the bathrooms handicap accessible and removing mold from parts of the building, among other things.
The city staff recommendation was for council to approve the contract agreement with PGAL for $50,000.
Councilmember James Avioli said $833,000 is a lot of money for a renovation project and said the costs are too high.
“It kind of seems like we’re trying to put a Band-Aid on things,” Councilmember Corbett Parker said.
Several of the council members wanted to know how much life they could get out of the building with the suggested improvements.
Jeff Gerber, president and CEO of PGAL, told council he didn’t know how much life they could get out of the building. He said improvements would have to continue to be made to get more life out of the building.
Council members Will Hickman and Andrew Friedberg both wanted to table the item and discuss it in a workshop.
Mayor Cindy Siegel said the city made a commitment to the voters to remodel the library.
“We keep going over and over. I think we’re going to get to the same place,” Siegel said. “We have a library that continues to decay … continuing to delay it drives up the cost.”
Councilmember Phil Nauert agreed with the mayor.
“I would like a new building there, but we need to maintain what we got,” Nauert said. “Here we are, let’s get on with it.”
Friedberg said he did not feel comfortable voting for the contract agreement. He said council is ready to write a blank check as long as they don’t have to pay for a new building.
“A box of Band-Aids doesn’t cost $850,000,” Friedberg said.
Hickman, Avioli and Friedberg all voted to table the agenda item, but the vote failed.
“Is there a cheaper Band-Aid … and what would a new facility cost?” Hickman said.
Council approved four-to-three to enter into a contact agreement with PGAL for design services not to exceed $50,000.
PGAL’s schematic designs will be brought before council for approval in August. If approved, construction could start as early as September and would take about four months.
The library plans to stay open during the construction.