Asbestos removal costs at new library site rise again

Asbestos work will also delay new library's opening by about four weeks

Construction crews work on the future site of the Cedar Rapids Public Library in Cedar Rapids, on Monday, March 26, 2012
Construction crews work on the future site of the Cedar Rapids Public Library in Cedar Rapids, on Monday, March 26, 2012. (Nikole Hanna/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cost of the asbestos removal at the site of the new downtown library has risen to more than $1.7 million and pushed back the opening of the facility another month.

Initially, the city’s library board had estimated that the cost to remove asbestos as part of the site demolition would be $42,916 and that the new library would open in June 2013.

However, a month ago, the library board approved the spending of an additional $1.3 million for the additional asbestos-removal costs, which now have climbed to a total of $1,766,014. A month ago, the library opening date was moved into from June to July 2013.

Bob Pasicznyuk, the city’s library director, on Monday said the complications of asbestos removal have moved the library’s projected opening date back even further, to the end of August 2013.

“It’s the time it took to prepare the site,” Pasicznyuk said. “Our asbestos removal has lasted that long. We’ve lost about 10 weeks. … It’s something we had to deal with. But we didn’t let it get us down.”

Excavation at the new library site uncovered a large amount of asbestos-tainted debris from the Washington School built in 1855 and the Washington High School built in 1890, which once sat on the site.

In the school demolition of 1946, much of the building ended up in the school’s basement and boiler rooms over which an American Legion Post building and bowling alley was built. TrueNorth Companies moved into the building in 2001, and in early 2010, the City Council voted to purchase the site for the new library.

Pasicznyuk this week is asking the library board to add $250,000 from private donations to the overall project budget to beef up the project’s contingency fund. The initial $3 million contingency fund now has shrunk due to the asbestos-related demolition costs and some project enhancements.

With the additional $250,000 added to the project’s contingency fund, the overall project budget increases to $45,820,322, which Pasicznyuk noted is still $3 million less than the project’s original projected budget.Three project enhancements being proposed to be covered by the project’s contingency fund are a $300,000 addition to the $265,000 in the project budget to purchase art for the building; a $79,366 addition to pay for more thorough testing and inspection of the library’s exterior shell; and a $60,000 addition to enhance the skywalk that connects the library to the Fourth Avenue Parkade.

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