Great Neck Library OKs $100K cost increase for Parkville renovations

Great Neck Library OKs $100K cost increase for Parkville renovations
The Great Neck Library Board of Trustees approved a change order for the Parkville Branch renovations that increased the cost by more than $100,000. (Photo by Cameryn Oakes)

The Great Neck Library recently unveiled the renovations at its Parkville Branch, but Thursday night the board approved a change order that increased the renovation costs by more than $100,000.

The board approved a $119,000 change order for local construction company Jobco’s contract to renovate the Parkville Branch.

The Parkville Branch library reopened Feb. 15 after seven months of being closed.

Business manager Steven Kashkin said Jobco’s original contract amounted to $867,500, but with the change order the bill came to $986,819. The change order amounted to about 12% of Jobco’s contract, Kashkin said.

Jobco’s contract still came out as the lowest bid for the project even with the change order, Kashkin said, with the next lowest bidder for the renovations proposed at $1,047,000. Other bids ranged from $1.1 million to $1.5 million.

“One thing to consider is many of these change orders that came up with Jobco we can pretty much assume that these other companies would have the same change orders,” Kashkin said.

The Parkville Branch renovation underwent two separate rounds of bidding, which Trustee Barry Smith said came in with lower costs during the first round of bidding yet were ultimately not accepted.

“It’s good that the library is open,” Smith said. “But it’s at the expense of four to five hundred thousand dollars more than what we could have paid back then.”

The Parkville branch renovations initially went out to bid in 2021, but was re-bid in 2023. Library Director Denise Corcoran said the rebid was due to a problem, which could not be discussed publicly, that prevented the library from being able to accept the first bid.

Kashkin said Jobco’s original bid in 2021 was proposed at about $700,000, almost $300,000 lower, which was also not the lowest bid during the first bidding process.

The board also approved the change order for the Parkville Branch fire system pretest and program, which nearly amounts to $10,000. This is applied to Jobco’s contract as well.

Corcoran said it had to be retested after construction was completed.

Kashkin said the final billing amount for the Parkville Branch renovations will be provided next month.

The board also passed a policy change Thursday night that codifies its policy of waiving late fees.

For years now, the library has been offering a fine amnesty program renewed every six months by the board, Trustee Liman Mimi Liu said.

The new policy removes fines for overdue books, but will still fine patrons who do not return their books after running out of renewals. Patrons will still be responsible for paying for lost or damaged books.

The late fee waiver does not apply to museum passes, library of things, LI LINK or OCLC loans from other libraries.

The Great Neck Library is also considering expanding its Sunday hours to move branch openings up to 10 a.m. The Main Library and the Parkville Branch are the only two open on Sundays from 1-5 p.m.

The library employs about 15 staff members at the Main Library on Sundays, with an additional four at Parkville, which Corcoran called a “skeleton crew” that could not be reduced to accommodate programming.

Corcoran said the cost of extending the hours would amount to an additional $66,000 annually.

The director said the library has had difficulties staffing the libraries on Sunday since it is an optional work day, forseeing this as the main challenge to extending Sunday hours.

“At this point, we are assigning some people because we don’t have enough volunteers,” Corcoran said.

The director said she will discuss with the employee union and the staff the interests and abilities of staff to work additional hours on Sunday before the board moves forward with a decision.

In other news, Vice President Kathleen Gold said the library’s Long Range Planning Committee discussed its priorities recently, which focus on the environment, parking, fostering a positive community, attracting and retaining high-quality staff, and developing resources to serve the community’s interests.

Gold said the committee’s next steps are looking into specific policies and future collaborations with the library.

Smith asked that the committee move ahead with the library’s beautification project, which has about $1.6 million set aside for nearly 10 years. Gold said that was discussed, but that other more pressing matters need to be taken care of before beautification can be started.

“It would be nice for the public to bring that project forward,” Smith said.

President Rory Lancman said the library has also discussed establishing a capital plan, but that necessary library renovations need to be finished first.

“And until we know what this building is going to cost us, it’s hard to plan to have a capital plan,” Lancman said.

The Main Library’s front entryway renovation is scheduled to begin soon, Corcoran said, with a start date to be established in the coming weeks.

In anticipation of the renovations, which will close the library’s front entrance, Corcoran said the library is making plans to open an alternative entrance and accommodations for patrons.

The library’s budget is beginning to be drafted, Corcoran said, and the Great Neck Library Board of Trustees will convene next for a budget workshop scheduled March 11.

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