We are the subrecipient (thank you, Town of Plainfield!) of a $28,000 grant from the Vermont Community Development Program, to plan an expansion/addition of the existing library to become 100% compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements of public buildings.
The expansion will serve everyone in the community since it will mean more space for people and programming at the library. At this stage, we anticipate doubling the usable square footage inside the library and doubling the amount of available parking.
We are working with Vermont Integrative Architecture. We've decided on a design and are just about to get a cost estimate to construct it. But first, we're soliciting bids from geotechnical engineers to advise us on the feasibility of building off the back of the building. We expect to know by July whether this is our final design or whether we have to consider a different building footprint. Once we have a cost estimate, we'll begin applying for grants and soliciting donors.
While we are close to completing this phase of our plan, delays have slowed down the timeline and we’re in the process of requesting six extra months to complete our work with the architect. Here’s what’s happened so far:
PRIOR TO THE GRANT APPLICATION
Using Preservation Trust of Vermont funding (Sincerbeaux grant), we had a Historic Building Assessment and an Accessibility Assessment done. We learned that we’ve taken very good care of our building and that our library is too cramped for wheelchair users to easily access our bathroom or many of our bookshelves. Our circulation desk and computer furniture is not designed to accommodate them either. The bar in the bathroom should be moved towards the front wall and the railing on our ramp is slightly higher than it should be. We moved some furniture in an effort to improve wheelchair access.
The library director and at least two trustees have attended Preservation Trust of VT retreats in Grand Isle dedicated to public building renovations and expansions, and have attended several professional development sessions focused on user design, library uses of the future and capital campaigns.
WITH THE GRANT FUNDS (and our matching $$)
We got an initial assessment from an archeological firm that we’ll need to do a thorough Archeological Review to determine whether the construction will negatively impact culturally significant artifacts, due to its proximity to the waterfall (pre-settlement) and its land use (colonial agriculture) history. We’re working with a historic preservation consultant to protect the significant historic characteristics of the building. We held three input sessions, two especially inviting comments, and encouraged suggestions via survey and poster-facilitated brainstorming. We’ve worked with Vermont Integrative Architecture in Middlebury and have decided on a design that will build off of the back right corner of the building and garage, and will extend our parking all the way to the bank along our property line. The new space and site work essentially doubles the library space, the parking and the housing/income property above the library.
We’ve made it a priority to design an addition that would not require increased staffing to operate. We’re choosing flexible/movable furnishings and creating spaces that can be used for after-hours group use, programs and events, quiet, socializing, computing, or collaborating. There is dedicated staff work space outside of the circulation desk area. There is a second handicapped accessible bathroom off the children’s area. A small outdoor seating area will patrons to enjoy the side yard. This design does not require relocating the monument. Once we’ve gotten the consultation of a geotechnical engineer regarding the feasibility of our design (re composition of the soil, suitability to build on filled portion), we’ll send the design to the cost estimator... unless it is determined that the design is not advised, at which point we’ll explore an alternate design and seek public input again. Once we have a cost, we’ll begin applying for grants. We’d be so happy to hear your thoughts/suggestions/questions.