Colfax Village Board and Library Board interview architects

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  — The Colfax Village Board and the Colfax Library Board held a joint meeting January14 at the Grapevine Senior Center to interview architects for building a new library.

The village board and the library board did not discuss the architects that were interviewed and did not make any decisions about choosing an architect but did schedule another joint meeting for January 19.

Here is a summary of the architects’ presentations.

Dimension IV

Jim Gersich of Dimension IV Madison Design Group’s motto is: never propose something that is not affordable because fiscal responsibility is part of the project.

Gersich’s other motto is: “If you build it, they will come.”

With a better library facility, circulation increases “every single time,” he said.

After building a new library, Colfax will be in the position of considering a serious expansion of the facility in 20 or 25 years, Gersich said.

With a new library, the number of users and the participation in using the new library, “will go through the roof,” he said.

Colfax is considering a 10,000 square foot library.

Gersich says he would rather see a community build a library in phases, especially if money is an issue.

The Colfax Public Library currently has 1,800 square feet.

The first phase of a new library could be 4,000 square feet, Gersich said.

“It’s worth considering. You want to avoid all or nothing,” he said.

The existing Colfax Municipal Building has no handicapped accessibility to the second floor and the balcony, noted Tina Gordon of Dimension IV.

The building is not meeting code, there is no parking lot, the meeting space for the village board is small, and the toilet rooms are not handicapped accessible, she said.

Scott Gunnufson, village president, wondered how much money would have to be committed to the project to get enough information to present to the library’s service population in a town hall meeting.

The process could cost $20,000, and if there is no library project, that would be a lot of money to spend with nothing to show for it, he said.

The project would not need $20,000 in design to present it to the public, Gersich said.

One library board member wanted to know what would be the biggest challenge.

“Getting people to buy into the project,” Gersich said.

Ayres Associates

Ayres Associates has done extensive library work in communities the size of Colfax, said Matt Frisbie of Ayres Associates, noting that Ayres has a grant specialist who works out of the Green Bay office.

Ayres would have a design team that is familiar with Colfax, he said.

Anne Peterson, an interior designer for Ayres, lives in Colfax.

Travis Schroeder of Ayres Associates previously worked for Cedar Corporation and spent quite a lot of time in Colfax working on the Colfax Municipal Building energy efficiency project.

Frisbie noted that he would be the lead architect on the project and that Schroeder would be the project architect.

The L-shaped Dairy State Bank lot is “do-able,” Frisbie said, noting that it is helpful Dairy State has offered the use of the bank’s parking lot for some library parking.

The Colfax Municipal Building meets zero percent of the Americans With Disabilities code, Schroeder said.

The Colfax Public Library is 1,800 square feet and offers 64 programs. The average number of programs for other libraries with more space available is 120 programs, he said.

At the Colfax library, 47 percent of the checkouts come from locally-owned items. In other libraries, the number of locally-owned items checked out from the library is 67 percent of the circulation, Schroeder said.

In Phase I of the process, Ayres would provide preliminary cost estimates, operational costs, and a brief analysis of options for a new library building, Schroeder said.

The information would be presented to the Colfax Village Board, the Colfax Library Board and the community at a town hall meeting, he said.

“The goal is to bring consensus with the community,” Frisbie said.

Phase I also would include a space assessment of the Dairy State Bank lot to make sure there is room to build a library or a multi-purpose building, he said.

FEH Associates

FEH Associates began in the 1890s with a Norwegian architect, said Kevin Eipperle of FEH.

Eipperle and Gregg Baum of FEH have designed numerous library projects together, Eipperle said — between 30 and 35 projects together and 60 projects between the two of them.

Eipperle said FEH keeps a list of funding sources, such as grants, energy rebates, no-interest loans and forgivable loans and will be willing to share those lists with Colfax if FEH is chosen as the architect for a new library.

Colfax most likely would not want to hire Eipperle to write grant applications, he said, because he would charge an architect’s fees to write the applications.

Pepper did not talk about whether FEH Associates has a grant writer on staff.

The challenge will be to find a use for the municipal building, but that will be part of the fund-raising campaigns, he said.

FEH uses the strategy of putting together an advisory task force made up of members of organizations and people in the service population, Eipperle said, noting that an advisory task force could have as many as 60 people.

An advisory task force makes sure “key stakeholders are involved,” he said.

The advisory task force will be able to weigh all of the options, and “you will have dozens of options,” Eipperle said.

FEH holds a design workshop in the community to get ideas from people living in the service population, he said.

All together, something like 20 options will be generated, and then the four best options will be selected to figure out what the cost of each would be, Eipperle said.

Gunnufson noted that the Colfax Village Board planned to have four advisory referendum questions on the April ballot and that Colfax residents would be assured they would not pay any additional taxes for a new library.

If the municipality does not commit any tax dollars to the library project, the library will not get any grant money, Eipperle said.

The expectation with most grants is that the village, county and townships will put money toward the project, and that committing some tax dollars is often a condition of being awarded the grant, Baum said.

The more partnerships for funding among the village, the county and the townships, the more successful the Colfax Public Library will be in obtaining grant money, he said.

For most library projects, it is typically five years from the start of the fund-raising until the building is finished, Eipperle and Baum said.

When half the money for a new library has been raised, then the schematic design can be done, they said.

At construction costs of approximately $200 per square foot for a 10,000 square foot building, a new library in Colfax would cost somewhere between $1.5 million and $2 million.