Asante to get next Surprise library; construction under way on $5.1M facility

An artist’s rendering depicts a view from inside the Asante Branch Library, which will begin construction in April ahead of a planned opening in January 2020. [Courtesy of city of Surprise]

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By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia

The community’s newest library will break ground soon, headed for completion by the end of the year in one of the its newest neighborhoods.

City leaders got an update on the development at the City Council work session Feb. 19 at City Hall, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza.

Construction will commence in April on the Asante Branch Library, a $5.1 million project funded primarily by developers’ fees, which will be situated in Asante Community Park near 167th and Grand avenues.

Community & Recreation Services Director Donna Miller explained the accelerated pace of the project, which city leaders approved last year.

“The library was discussed during the FY19 budget process,” Ms. Miller recalled. “We knew it was going to be a really aggressive schedule … we prepared the procurement side of it and got everything lined up with our construction so that we could come back to council in August.”

To use development impact fees – which represent $4,651,900 of the $10,000-square-foot project’s $5,101,900 price tag – construction of the building shell must be completed before the end of this year.

The impact fees can only be spent on the building, while the cost of furnishing the facility with books, equipment and furniture – as well as ongoing operations costs – will be funded by the city as determined through the fiscal year 2020 budget process.

The library will feature areas dedicated to adults, teens and children, as well as study rooms, a space dedicated for the Friends of the Library near the entrance, and a multipurpose room, which could be used for meetings.

The facility would also include 12 to 14 computer stations for patron use, Ms. Miller explained.

Project timeline

General Contractor Haydon Construction was issued a notice to proceed on the design-build project in October 2018 and the civil engineering, with design completed and permits issued in January, started this month.

Permits for vertical construction will be issued in March ahead of a construction start in April in order to complete the building before the end of the year, according to Ms. Miller.

“We actually received 90 percent plans last week, so we expect construction start in April,” she said. “We know we will have it substantially complete by the end of December of this year.”

Once the building is done, officials will spend an estimated $550,000 to furnish the facility to prepare it for opening in January 2020.

This will include purchasing and installing a collection of books; IT security and infrastructure; computers and printers; a security gate, book sorter and self-checkout; shelves and furniture; and audio-visual equipment for the multipurpose and study rooms.

Next steps

The new library will be operated, as other city libraries, through an intergovernmental agreement with the Maricopa County Library District.

For service-level comparisons, the Northwest Regional Library currently operates 68 hour per week and is open every day at a cost of $2 million per year.

The Hollyhock Library in the Original Town Site is open only 18 hours over three days each week and costs $70,000 per year to run.

Three options are under consideration for the Asante branch, including:

  • 60 hours per week, closed Sunday: cost $1,031,000 annually
  • 48 hours, closed Sunday: cost $910,600 annually
  • 25 hours, three days per week: cost $604,338 annually

City officials compared this project with another similar library, which opened recently in the West Valley, to estimate costs and make recommendations about opening-day service levels, Ms. Miller explained.

“When we met with Goodyear, for 10,000-square-feet they have about 48 hours they are open,” Ms. Miller said. “When we spoke to the county, they feel like that’s a pretty good number to start with, considering it’s a branch library, not a regional library.”

Mayor Skip Hall questioned the choice to close on the weekend as opposed to on a weekday.

“My only question is whether Sunday is more effective than Monday?” he asked.

County officials suggested Mondays are of greater value to patrons than Sundays because of potential weekday programming, Ms. Miller said.

The county agreement includes complete operations, including staffing, utilities, janitorial services, internet and landscaping, she added.

District 5 Councilman David Sanders, who previously served on the CRS board, asked what other services are included in the county agreement.

“You had talked about the IGA. That includes staffing of the library. Does that also give us access to resources that Maricopa County libraries have as well?”

Ms. Miller explained that, as part of the county system, Surprise library patrons also get access to more than 650,000 shared items included in the county’s collection.

The final details of the IGA will be ironed out during the FY2020 budget process to determine appropriate service levels.

A meeting date for those discussions has not yet been announced.

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