Library's electrical system a critical issue

The Missouri River Regional Library (MRRL) board’s renovation plans have changed since reviewing a Capital Renovation Projects study of the MRRL building completed late last year by Kansas City engineering firm Clark Enersen Partners.

The firm outlined Capital Renovation Projects totalling more than $3.6 million over the course of five years.

“We found that we have lots of issues because we have an old building and aging equipment,” said Nicoll Clarkston, chair of the board’s Capital Facilities Committee. “Since there are so many issues, there are certain projects we can’t do unless we fix the electrical.”

Key electrical issues outlined in the study include: a fire alarm system that dates back to 1971 “and no longer meets applicable building codes;” energy efficiency; and a main electrical distribution panel original to the building. The study states “the panel manufacturer is no longer in existence and replacement parts are not readily available.”

MRRL was built in three phases from 1970-74. It’s first architectural renovation was in the early 1990s and the second was in 2007. The renovations included cosmetic things, such as removing walls and new carpeting and paint.

The study found that “the vast majorities of the building systems are original to the building, and are at or near the end of their effective life.” It stated that “large areas remain outdated and are in need of upgrades to meet current codes and standards.”

At the beginning of the study, the library board told Clark Enersen Partners that a new chiller — an estimated $343,000 — would be the first project on the renovation list.

“Their findings put us in a juggling spot,” Clarkston said. “We think we should replace the electrical first because it’s hazardous and we’d always be worrying about electrical fires.”

The board voted Tuesday to move forward in negotiations with Clark Enersen Partners to produce construction documents to replace the electrical and air handling units in the facility.

The estimated cost for the electrical and air handling project is $398,000, but that doesn’t include fees for the production of construction documents.

The board currently has $386,000 for capital improvements — $200,000 from the 2013 budget and $186,000 from the 2014 budget.

Betty Hagenhoff, assistant director of facilities at MRRL, said the board would have to approve the difference to come out of library reserve funds.

“It’s important to note, though, that any of these estimated numbers can change,” she said.

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