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Public backs modest remodeling for library

Several members of the Friends said that after news of an extended closure emerged, contributors began to ask for their money back.

The 2003 proposed renovation was dismissed in 2004 by the Legislature. The Legislature then hired a new architect who designed the most recent, 9,000-square-foot expansion project.

County Manager Kathleen Rooney said the county is committed to finding a project that gets the universal support of legislators, library stakeholders and the public.

"We want to set up a process to obtain a consensus that works for the library and works for the community," said Rooney. "If anything, this (process) has told us all how committed everyone is to the library."

Rooney said bidders will respond to two alternate bids.

Alternate A focuses on replacing major systems in the building including heating, ventilation and air conditiong, asbestos abatement and general upgrades to the first-floor space. Library closure during these upgrades will be very limited.

Alternate B will focus on utilizing the upstairs of the current facility to house library programs, eliminating the need to change the basic footprint of the building.

Rooney said this option could lower costs and the time involved in the renovation project.

The second floor space, totaling 22,600 square feet, is now used for administrative space and book storage only.

By consolidating administrative space, additional room is freed up on the second floor for library services. Under this plan, the McChesney Room and other parts of the main floor will be upgraded rather than adding the time and expense of expanding the first floor.

Earlier this month, a press release issued by the county confirmed that the hours of the libraries at Schenectady City Schools would extend during the shutdown period. State Street's Proctors may also donate space for library programs.

While Rooney did not give a deadline for bids, she said the project will move forward expediently.

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