ADVERTISEMENT

A two-phase proposal to expand and renovate the West Seneca Public Library was presented Monday afternoon, but the big question remains: How much will it cost?

Finding the answer was left to architect Brian J. Kulpa, an associate with the Clark Patterson Lee architectural firm, following a presentation that he and grants consultant Connie D. Miner gave during a Town Board meeting. The town is facing an Oct. 4 deadline to apply for a share of $641,863 available to the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System under the current round of state public library construction grants.

Grants cover up to 50 percent of approved costs. Their conditions require that staffing levels remain neutral and that the building remain in use as a library for 10 years after the project is complete.

Any expansion plan also must be approved by the library system. But the town has to be willing to fund the project’s entire cost – minus the amount of any grants – in order to apply for a grant.

“We do have to show them we are fully committed to the project,” Miner said.

She and Kulpa also talked about a proposed third phase, part of the wish list that won’t be pursued at this time – an 8,000-square-foot addition that would include a 4,000-square-foot cafe and provide more leg room elsewhere. That proposal would extend the building closer to Union Road.

“I think this two-phase approach makes the most sense,” Miner said. “I think it’s the best approach, and most fiscally responsible.”

The library, built in 1957, is 7,320 square feet. About a year ago, town and library officials started discussing its condition and what they’d like to see happen.

“We want this library to essentially occupy the same space,” Kulpa said. “When it comes to the existing building, there’s no need to “throw it away,” he added.

The addition of 10,236 square feet would increase space for community uses. Plans include a large community room, a conference room and two program rooms, as well as a mall area where people could access Wi-Fi 24 hours a day.

Miner said the grant program gives priority to projects that increase energy conservation, provide accommodation for computer and new technologies, among other things. Kulpa said the prairie-style design lends itself to rooftop and rain gardens, as well as solar access.

“These are some very preliminary concepts,” said Kulpa, who also tossed out some cost estimates of $275 per square foot for new construction, and $175 a square foot for renovations. Those add up to a price tag of close to $4.1 million.

email: jhabuda@buffnews.com