Leader Blues

Monday, January 07, 2008

TOP STORY >> New library is taking shape

Leader staff writer

The concrete slab for the new Jacksonville library is done, so is most of the plumbing and the contractor is in the middle of drilling 36 deep holes to regulate heating and cooling.

City Administrator Jay Whisker gave the update to aldermen at the council meeting Thursday night. Public Works Director Jim Oakley gave an update on the recycling park.

Whisker said the contractor has 300 days to complete the $3.7 million library facility on Main Street. Additional days could be added to the contract because of weather.

He said most of the people he talks to want to know when will there be an outline of a building on the site. That’s at least six weeks out. “The contractor just got final approval on the design and has ordered the steel, which will take about six weeks to arrive,” Whisker explained.

Whisker, who is the former city engineer, was most excited by the hydronics work by the contractor. “There will be 36 holes (hundreds of feet deep) drilled on site for the purpose of heating and cooling the building in an environmentally friendly way,” he said.

The earth is at a constant temperature of about 55 degrees, Whisker explained, and piping will carry water or air down deep and then bring it back up, so no matter how cold or hot it is to start with it’ll be earth temperature and then can be heated or cooled further as needed, saving money and energy.

The library is funded by a 1-mill property tax, private donations, $300,000 from the Central Arkansas Library System and about $400,000 from the city’s sales tax voted to fund the Splash Zone, the joint-education center and the police and firefighter’s training facility.

The new library, developed by W.E.R. Architects of Little Rock, will make the facility the centerpiece for the downtown area.
Plans call for the 13,500-square-foot multi-use facility to have a secure outdoor space for outside activities, a large pavilion that can be used by area residents and groups, and a pond and plaza.

Architect David Sargent of W.E.R. predicts the pavilion and plaza area will become popular sites for weddings. He added that the landscape design allows for a mix of sunny and shaded areas, and even a possible interactive nature trail. Inside, the new library will have more computers than the current Nixon Library located just west of the new site, more space for books, and other items, along with a multi-purpose room that can accommodate a large number of children who participate in the library’s weekly story times and summer-reading program.

Oakley told aldermen that the recycling-education park, designed to educate students through the fifth grade on the merits of recycling, is coming along and should be completed by early summer.

The park, located off Marshall Road next to the city’s recycling plant, will include a main pavilion circled by 10 educational stations.

Oakley said the pavilion, being built with city money, is almost completed. He also said donations have paid for seven of the 10 educational stations and for timbers needed for the walking trails.

Work on the park is headed up by the Keep Jacksonville Beautiful organization.

In other council business:

Aldermen reappointed Tom Evans, John Herbold and Bart Gray Jr. to the planning commission.

Charles Evans was appointed to the planning commission to fill the unexpired term of Emma Knight who recently resigned.

The mayor reminded the council of the upcoming annexation meetings about Gravel Ridge and asked aldermen to attend.