Library project narrows scope

The Schenectady County Library's board of trustees and the Schenectady County Legislature will no longer receive bids for major renovations of the main downtown branch, but will address the building's outmoded infrastructure with a $1 million improvement plan that updates heating, air conditioning and electrical systems.

Legislator Gary Hughes, D-Schenectady, chairman of the education and libraries committee said the county will proceed rapidly to pass a resolution so that work can begin this construction season.

We absolutely need to move forward, said Hughes, citing the safety risks of accommodating the public in a building with inferior systems.

The county will pay for the work by issuing bonds.

Hughes and Esther Swanker, president of the board of trustees, said that work to the 40-year-old systems could close the library for short periods during the project, but the closure will be a far cry from the county's reconstruction plan that would have called for a 12- to 14-month closure of the library, and brought a surge of public outcry from residents.

That project would have demolished the McChesney Room meeting space in order to construct a new entryway at the corner of Clinton and Liberty streets. The $7.7 million, defunct plan also called for 9,000 square feet of additional floor space, the construction of a cafE and a performing arts auditorium.

Now county officials will ask contractors to remove their previous bids and submit new proposals under a different set of specifications.

The Friends of the Schenectady Public Library raised nearly $2.5 million for the tabled expansion through donations from residents and gifts from foundations. It is currently unclear what will happen with that money.

Expansion project not dead yet

At its meeting on Thursday, May 22, the board of trustees established a committee, chaired by Trustee Stephen Fitz, that will discuss a new expansion plan.

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