By Henry Dolive For The Oklahoman
OKLAHOMA CITY - BETHANY — Officials are looking at a mid-August construction start for Bethany's new public library, to be funded largely from an $8.1 million bond that voters approved in April 2016.
Contractors are expected to begin bidding on the project in June, following final approval of architectural plans for the library to be built on the site of Bethany's now-closed library at 3510 N Mueller Ave.
Library operations are housed presently at a temporary location at 7941 NW 23.
Officials will open bids on the 23,000-square-foot library project at 2 p.m. July 6, said City Manager J.D. Cox, with a contract to be awarded that month. Groundbreaking and start of construction is set for Aug. 12, he said.
Ward 2 Councilwoman Arlita Harris, who chairs the library steering committee, said the committee is pleased with the construction cost estimate.
“It came in right where we wanted it to be,” she said. “If the bids come in that way, it will be a wonderful thing.”
The construction contract will include demolition of the old library, which closed in February. The new library will occupy the same site but will be about triple the size.
Among features to be offered in the new library, Harris said, are conference space for groups of 100 or more, a larger collection of materials, a drive-up book drop, a quiet reading area and a special section for children's programs.
The new library also will include a teen center, large picture windows and outdoor reading porches. The campus will include walking trails, improvements to the nearby pond, a new playground, additional parking with wider spaces and extensive landscaping.
Construction will take 12 to 18 months.
Cox said the library was designed to incorporate many of the requests made during public meetings conducted before the bond election.
The Bethany Library is part of the Metropolitan Library System, which oversees staffing, selection of materials and day-to-day library operations, and is providing about $2 million toward the new library.
Cox praised the leadership of Harris, Metropolitan Library System Director Tim Rogers, Bethany's library consultant Todd Olberding and others.
“An enormity of work has been completed to bring this project to this point of final approval to go out for construction,” Cox said. “It has truly been a team effort.”
Harris said the presentation to the city council on June 5 will be led by Denelle Wrightson, director of library architecture for Dewberry Architects, the firm chosen by the city council. Harris described Wrightson as one of the world's foremost library architects, having designed 250 to 300 libraries.
Bethany' old 8,400-square-foot library was opened in 1965, and while one of the metro system's busier libraries, it was one of the smallest. It did not meet handicap-accessibility requirements, lacked energy-efficiency, had little meeting space, and its mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were dated.
“We hope that this new and much-improved library will increase our sense of community and provide residents with a wonderful place to spend time with family and neighbors,” said Nikki Phipps, Bethany public information officer.
Voters gave the bond proposal 71.7 percent approval, with the question winning by a vote of 1,022-404.