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Library project's state funding appears safe

March 09, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • Workers take the concrete glass panels from the Washington County Free Library piece by piece to be used in other local projects.
Herald-Mail file photos

ANNAPOLIS — State funding for a library renovation project in downtown Hagerstown appears safe for the coming year.

An analyst with the state Department of Legislative Services recommended that $2.5 million in funding for the project be approved, as planned.

The recommendation was discussed Wednesday during a House budget subcommittee hearing on capital projects for the coming fiscal year.

Mary Baykan, the director of the Washington County Free Library, said funding for the project is on track.

"We are in good shape," she said during an interview after the budget review.

The cost of renovating and expanding the downtown library building has risen and now is estimated at $24.5 million, according to a summary distributed Wednesday in the Appropriations' Capital Budget Subcommittee.

Of that, the state's share for the regional center is $10 million, the summary said.

The subcommittee reviewed that and other capital projects as part of the early stages of the budget process.

The legislative services analyst also suggested placing limits on a separate statewide fund for library renovation and construction.

The $5 million grant program, created about five years ago, sometimes has been targeted for cuts, Baykan said.

She said money from that account helps leverage local government funding for projects.

The Washington County project includes the county's main library branch, as well as Western Maryland Regional Library, a state library. They share the same building.

The regional library will expand from 2,900 square feet to 5,950 square feet, the summary said. The county library will expand from 44,600 square feet to 84,758 square feet.

The summary said the project cost estimate had been $19.4 million a year ago, then increased $5.1 million for several reasons.

For example, an initial construction plan didn't meet state requirements for prevailing wage and for Minority Business Enterprise and Women's Business Enterprise participation.

Baykan said library officials didn't realize at first that the project would be subject to those requirements.

The $2.5 million earmarked for the project in fiscal 2012 would be the final part of the state's $10 million share for the regional center, Baykan said.

Additionally, the state is providing $2.5 million for the local library portion of the project.

Washington County, the city of Hagerstown, the library's endowment and private donations also are covering the $14.5 million cost of the local library portion, the state summary said.

Construction on the project started last month. Baykan said it is scheduled to be completed in October 2012.

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