Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s planned renovation of the downtown Main Library is expected to cost about $10.5 million, 20 percent more costly than a figure previously emphasized by library leaders, according to emails obtained by The Blade.
Library officials have cited a figure of $8.6 million when asked about projected renovation costs and even include that figure on a “frequently asked questions” website about the project. But that $8.6 million is only the planned construction cost, and does not include “soft costs” such as furniture and architectural fees. Administrators at the library said Monday that they used the lower figure because construction costs are the normal figure the library cites when describing a project.
“Nothing was intentionally withheld from anybody from any point in time,” said Charles Oswanski, superintendent of facilities and operations for the library system.
Marketing manager Terri Carroll said that the difference in wording between construction and project costs was “insider baseball” that can confuse the public, so the library tries to cite the same figure with all its projects. But a website created by the library to inform the public about the project originally said renovation costs would be about $8.6 million.
“How much will it cost? The renovation will total approximately $8.6 million,” the library said on its website.
After inquiries from a Blade reporter Monday, the library altered the page to say the $8.6 million figure was only for construction costs.
Clyde Scoles, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library executive director.
While it is not clear if the initial focus on the $8.6 million was purposeful, library officials knew Wednesday that there was an issue. Mr. Oswanski emailed library Director Clyde Scoles and other top library officials about the matter but said nothing to a Blade reporter who met with six library administrators about the project hours later.
“Something else to clean up,” he wrote in the email. “Mr. [Scoles] was concerned about this. In today's paper they mention that we reduced the cost of main library from 10.5 million to 8.6 million. The 10.5 is the overall cost including architecture technology furnishings etc. The 8.6 is cost of construction.”
Library officials announced last week that the Main Library would close after Labor Day for about a year for a major renovation project. They’ve said that they decided to close the library because keeping it open could have stretched the project to 16 months, because it saved costs, and because it was safer to do the work while the library is closed.
Discussions regarding closing the library were done in private before the project was announced Tuesday, and library officials made clear in emails before the announcement that the information should remain strictly confidential.
“This needs to remain confidential within those copied here, but we may consider closing Main all together if there is an opportunity to shorten the over-all project duration and reduce costs,” Mr. Oswanski said in a Feb. 19 email.
Renovation costs may increase over current estimates, as a planned renovation to the Children’s Library was not included in the project, as “the scope is yet to be defined and funding has yet to be determined,” a spokesman said Monday.
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