Bookworms and firefighters are one step closer to sharing a space in Corona del Mar.
Conceptual plans for the CdM library and fire station project, or “fibrary” as it’s commonly called, was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Newport Beach City Council.
Council approved floor plan option D-4, and rendering option 3 as the preferred floor plan layout and exterior architectural style concept for the project.
The current buildings are outdated and need to be replaced. They are basic 1950/60s “vintage” single-story buildings, said Deputy Public Works Director and city engineer Mark Vukojevic.
“They’ve served our community for many years,” Vukojevic said.
They’ve spent a lot of time over the last eight months doing public outreach and receiving feedback from the public, he noted. They’ve also met with library staff, the library’s board of trustees and fire department officials.
Both the Library Board of Trustees and the community supported the “prairie” style of architecture, Vukojevic said. The public building is close to a residential neighborhood, he continued, so they wanted it to look appropriate in the community.
“It was designed to try and fit in with the neighborhood as best as possible,” Vukojevic said.
The 10,000-square-foot building would include stroller parking, children’s area, and an exterior reading porch. The plans also include 30 parking spaces on site.
The first floor would be equipment storage and an apparatus bay for the fire station and the main floor of the library.
The living quarters for the firefighters would be on the second floor.
The council’s move also established a total project budget goal at a not-to-exceed cost of $8 million, more than the originally estimated $6.75 million.
Staff does have some ideas to reduce costs, Vukojevic explained.
Councilman Scott Peotter, who represents the CdM area, agreed. After working with staff on the budget, Peotter feels they can decrease the budget by the time the project goes to bid.
The city will have a more precise figure before the council approves next year’s budget, Vukojevic clarified.
“Construction costs for this type of facility are now hovering around $600 per square foot,” the staff report reads. “However, staff believes that through the upcoming design development phase, there will be opportunities to value engineer the project to reduce costs.”
Value engineering includes looking to incorporate standard sizes and quality materials instead of custom materials as well as maximizing the efficiency of the design, according to city staff.
“This will be closely balanced with maintaining a high quality public facility that fits in the neighborhood, is durable, and can withstand the test of time,” the report notes.
There also may be opportunities for private funding to provide library furnishings, features or equipment, staff added.
The main difference is that they are trying to build the library back to the original size, Vukojevic noted.
“This expected increase in cost for the facility can be primarily attributed to the increased size of the building and is in line with industry standards,” the staff report reads.
Peotter was very involved with the project and attended every community outreach meeting.
The original scope, for some reason, did not include the library at the same size that it currently is, Peotter noted. The library is heavily used by local residents, he pointed out.
The community has strongly voiced their support for maintaining the size of the popular community library.
“The Corona del Mar library is a wonderful place,” said longtime resident Elizabeth Star during public comment at Tuesday’s meeting.
It serves both young children and senior citizens, she explained. Including the kids of another longtime resident, Wendy Salter.
The city has been a great partner to the residents during the process, Salter said.
“I think the library is going to be fantastic the way it’s all planned,” she said. “We have all worked so hard to make this happen.”
Salter and several residents urged the council to approve the increased budget. It’s worth it and the size is needed, several noted.
“Please consider making this the best library it can be,” Salter pleaded. “Corona del Mar needs their little library.”
This is an effort that the community is absolutely willing to stand behind, said Friends of the CdM Library Founder Joy Brenner.
Staff and the project team have been very responsive, Brenner added.
“I see this project as something that is just a real model of how citizens and staff and legislators work together for the betterment of the community,” Brenner said. “We had some differences of opinion along the way, but we were always able to work through them.”
Staff hopes to reviewing the plan and specifications and obtaining the proper permits by spring. They aim to bid and award the construction contract by summer, at which time the fire operations will be relocated. Construction should start in fall 2016 and finish by winter 2017.
They’ve all worked hard together on the project, she said, and they are proud of the final project.
The process allowed the project to be tailored to fit the needs of the residents after listening to the community during the pubic outreach process, said Councilman Keith Curry. He applauded the residents for making their voices heard and expressed excitement for the project.
“This is going to be a tremendous community resource and asset, as it’s been for generations of Newport children in Corona del Mar,” Curry said. “It’s these (type of) facilities that make our city special.”
For more information, visit newportbeachca.gov.