DAYTON — The Dayton Metro Library Board of Trustees will ask voters to support a $187 million bond issue in November for a systemwide building project, which includes rebuilding and expanding the main library downtown and adding several new branches.
The plan would change libraries from “books and bricks” into community centers designed to provide traditional library services, as well as the latest technology. It calls for reducing the number of branch libraries from 21 to 16 as the result of new construction.
It’s easily the biggest makeover in the countywide system since the downtown library was built in 1962.
Library director Tim Kambitsch estimated the 26-year bond issue at 1.56 mills would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $48 annually.
The Montgomery County Auditor’s Office has not yet certified those figures. The plan revealed Wednesday during a trustees meeting cut an earlier proposed bond request from $220 million to $187 million.
The decision to rebuild and expand the main library, rather than building a new library elsewhere, cut about $6.2 million from the projected cost. Speeding the construction timeline, from six years to three, is estimated to reduce costs by more than $15 million, Kambitsch said.
“We’re taking advantage of the current economic environment allowing us to finance at a lower rate, and the construction industry is such that we can get a good value for our money,” he said.
Trustee Dennis Turner argued in favor of a higher bond issue that would have included funds for construction of a new main library.
“The possibility of this building being a gem for the downtown, being the thing people want to come to that has an attraction level, I don’t want to risk losing that,” he said.
The library began re-evaluating facilities about eight years ago, based on patron feedback during the 2004 levy campaign. Before advancing a building plan, the board updated its strategic plan. Input from about 400 people identified outdated facilities as major obstacles to improving library services.
In early 2008, the library staff began working with consultants to lay the groundwork for a construction plan. They studied communities and the conditions of branches and documented levels of library usage.
As a result, four new urban branches are planned: one for northwest Dayton and parts of Harrison Twp.; West Dayton; southeast Dayton; and the Riverside and east Dayton area north of U.S. 35. New branches also are proposed for Huber Heights and Vandalia.
Branches in east Kettering, Miamisburg, Miami Twp. and Northmont (Englewood/ Clayton) would undergo significant expansions. Branches serving stable or declining populations in Brookville, New Lebanon, Old North Dayton, Trotwood, West Carrollton and west Kettering would undergo renovation to make better use of existing space.
The library system is studying the possibility of a joint building venture with the Kettering Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department.
Plans for the main library entail taking 100,000 square feet of existing space down to the girders, then rebuilding and adding 100,000 square feet of new construction.
“Fifty percent of your building would be new, so you’re not confined to this footprint,” said John Fabelo, a partner in LWC Incorporated, a Dayton-based architectural firm working with library officials to identify ways to cut costs from the building plan. “You’re going to be able to add on to two sides to get a new look using this shell.”
Kambitsch said patrons will not recognize the building when it is done.
About half of Cooper Park, which abuts the library, will be preserved under the current plan, which includes 175 on-site parking spaces, possibly underground, Kambitsch said.
The library system also plans to forgo seeking green certification to save money.
“We want to build these buildings as green as possible, because they are more energy-efficient and will cost less for us to operate,” Kambitsch said. “But I think we definitely want to put greenbacks into the pockets of our residents instead of putting a (a green certification) plaque up.”
An estimated 460,00 people live within the Dayton Metro Library service area. Kambitsch said about 67 percent hold library cards and one in three visit a library at least once a month.
Each of the new buildings would include 100,000 volumes of printed books and media, such as newspapers; small group study and tutoring rooms; substantially more computers; quiet reading rooms and creative spaces for children.
The board also considered a $230 million building project. With nearly $11 million on hand, trustees considered placing a $220 million bond issue before voters. At 1.84 mills, that tax issue would have cost the owner of a $100,000 about $56 a year.
“I think this (lower bond issue) is the responsible approach,” Board President Margo Merz said.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2000 or josmith@DaytonDailyNews.com.