Beginning Dec. 31, the library will close its doors and won't reopen them until 2013, when the year-long renovations are expected to be completed.
The plans were discussed and voted on during the Dec. 21 Lower Merion Board of Commissioners meeting, where the 2012 budget and a deal to purchase less than an acre of land were also approved.
The board approved a proposal to hire Wayne Moving and Storage Company to move and store Bala Library's materials by 10-3, with Commissioners Scott Zelov, Jenny Brown and Phil Rosenzweig casting the opposing votes.
A concern expressed prior to the vote was preventing complications that have happened with rennovations of the Ludington Library on Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr, a project that did not meet its mid-December completion goal. The concern was brought up after Commissioner George Manos, Ward 9, motioned to table a vote on the proposal to hire a construction manager or owner's representative to oversee the project for the township.
The motion was approved unanimously, but not without questions and comments for consideration.
"I don't know when that work is going to commence, but the value in having a construction manager or owner's rep seems important to me…we've had a difficult experience at Ludington Library that I don't think we want repeated," Zelov, Ward 10, said at the meeting.
Manos said he saw no negative impact in postponing the proposal, which he said contained too much technical language.
Manos added that he had questions with the proposal that he would like more time to evaluate.
Township Manager Douglas Cleland said that reviewing the proposal on Jan. 11 would also possible allow for the scheduling of a meeting to allow the board to not only make a recommendation to hire, but also proceed to make the hire.
"Considering the new project is tight, we at the staff level do not recommend any delay or postponement of the Bala project from its current schedule," Cleland added.
Zelov responded that he did not support commencement of this project but that the board made the decision to go forward, and that given the decision, he felt it needed to proceed with an owner's represenative.
Commissioner Lewis Gould agreed with Zelov's opinion, and asked for a report regarding the oversight of Vitetta Archiects, the owner's representative of the Ludington Library project, as to what they saw and what was there when when the visited the site.
Gould asked this because the township contract with Vitetta included a responsibility for visits on a weekly basis to Ludington, and he wanted to make sure that with the Bala project that there wouldn't be overlapping duties between Vittetta and a construction manager to avoid extra costs.
"This agreement calls for Vitetta to be paid 60,200 for construction administration for the Bala library project, so if you were to add the 60,000 we're paying to Vitetta to the amount in this proposal for 146,300, we're paying over 200,000 for construction administration at the Bala project, nearly twice as much as we paid at Ludington," he said.
"There's a lot that we as taxpayers and commissioners need to know about what has happened and what is happening at Ludington," Gould added.
Cleland responded that any contract the township enters into with the owner's represenative would make sure there was no duplication of work.
Cleland also provided an update with Ludington, namely the plumbing contractor problems that has delayed the project since some of the construction cannot be completed without finished plumbing. Cleland said that Altchem Environmental Services, the project's plumbing contract, has returned to the site to work and install fire sprinklers.
Cleland said he expected for it to take as long as 10 weeks after construction completion to move books, computers and other materials back into Ludington.