By Nona Tepper
After 23 years, the Forest Park Public Library is undergoing a redesign, in reaction to the changing ways residents are using the library. The library has chosen a construction manager for its planned $1 million renovation of interior spaces, tentatively scheduled to last five months, beginning in late spring.
"It's a little overwhelming, it's a big project, and I think everybody wants to do it right and be careful. But everybody's excited," said Pilar Shaker, director of the library. "The staff are really excited about being able to give the public a building they feel really proud of."
Of the four firms who submitted bids for the project, the library board selected Elgin-based Shales McNutt Construction at a regular board meeting on Nov. 19, executing a $182,000 contract with the firm. Shaker said Shales McNutt scored highest on the board's rubric for grading all the firms, pointing to Shales McNutt's experience renovating at least nine nearby libraries, including the Glen Ellyn Public Library, Barrington Area Library and Arlington Heights Memorial Library. Trustees earlier selected the Itasca-based Williams Architects for the project, which also designed the Roos Recreation Center.
Library trustees based their selection of Shales McNutt partly on the quality of the company's written proposals and spoken presentations, the number of full-time staffers devoted to the project, and their previous experience. Pilar said one thing that stood out was the authenticity of Josh Campanelli, the construction manager from Shales McNutt, who would be dedicated to the Forest Park project full-time.
"He was very personable and answered the questions from a very personal perspective. They weren't canned responses; he put a lot of thought into this project, had very specific responses," Shaker said.
"He had some very specific recommendations on swapping out finishes or fixtures, or slightly changing the plan the architect put together because we're looking to save money where we can and stay on our timeline," she said.
The renovation will cost up to $1.3 million and be funded through the library's existing capital reserves. The board started saving for the renovation five years ago.
Now that a construction firm has been selected, Shaker said Campanelli will meet with the architect to nail down the exact cost and scope of the project. Once the specifics are ironed out, the group will hold a public hearing for residents to voice their opinions and learn more about the project, she said.
"As soon as we can get it sorted out, we will do that," Shaker said.
Under the architect's early plans, the library's lower level would include staff spaces; the youth collection and program room; early literacy play area; meeting room; two quiet study rooms; and kitchen. The upper level would house four study rooms; the teen program area and library; audio visual and new materials; quiet room, computers and tables; adult services; vending café; collaborative computer and technology zone; and lounge seating.
Shaker also mentioned that the library hopes to add a family bathroom, change its carpet and refresh its staff rooms.