2015-10-06 / Front Page

Bond Sale Moves Library One Step Closer To Start Of 2016 Expansion

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer

The Owen County Pub­lic Library (OCPL) recent­ly benefitted from a solid AA-bond rating from San­dard & Poor (S&P) during a bond sale held Septem­ber 15th. The bond sale will provided the necessary monies to fund a planned $2 million expansion of the library set to begin in the spring of 2016.

The winning bid among five for the 15-year bond came from Hilliard-Lyons, a wealth management firm with locations in Indiana and 11 other states.

Plans are to expand the building east, which will eliminate employee park­ing and provide a com­pletely new open floor lay­out. The library’s current square footage of 17,366 will increase by 6,000 square feet on the ground floor and 1,800 on the sec­ond floor. Another major issue to be addressed is the elimination of gutter­ing within the building’s facade.

“The timing is perfect, as we are not only experienc­ing growing pains, but also have been facing the kinds of problems that buildings often face after many years of service,” OCPL Director Ginger Rogers said. “So we have once again sought the guidance of these two com­panies as we approached the need for an expansion and renovation project.”

Frank Coffin, president of the library’s board of trustees, said the S&P rat­ing was high enough to likely reduce projected semi-annual bond pay­ment figures. He noted the library received the same rating for its first bond for initial building reno­vations during a conver­sion from the former Owen County State Bank to a new library space. Ice Mill­er also provided counsel for the initial sale, as well as research and investment firm Therber and Brock.

“There was a lot of pa­perwork and legal work to get this done, and we are grateful to Mike Ther­ber of Therber and Brock and to Jane Herndon at Ice-Miller for helping us get through it,” he said. “S&P noted our solid re­cord of financial manage­ment, timely disposal of all obligations, detailed planning, and careful use of resources. Like all gov­ernment organizations, we are dependent upon tax revenues for income, so there’s some possible fluc­tuation there that we have no control over, but con­sidered against the track record, S&P felt that we are in a good place, and the rating reflects that, and thus the smoothness of the sale. The board worked hard to prepare for this, not just recently, but over the years, and Ginger has done a good job of working through all of it and re­sponding to our questions.”

OCPL expects to receive the sale proceeds by Octo­ber 6, which will be placed into a special construction account at Owen County State Bank.

“The focus shifts square­ly onto the architects. For­mal design drawings are due in December, with contracts bid at about the same time. Stair and Asso­ciates will coordinate that process, but we will be fol­lowing closely and having input both to design and process,” Coffin explained. I think we’re also going to see some things that will be visually impressive. We and the library staff, who have been so helpful, will be talking with the archi­tect often as we get ready. A lot of things will take shape in the next couple of months, and a lot of design decisions will get made.”

The initial bond will be paid in full by the end of 2015, with construc­tion crews likely to break ground in March of next year.

“Our two most import­ant goals are to take care of all the mechanical prob­lems, and to get as much square footage as possible,” Rogers emphasized. “After that, we have a wish list of service areas we hope to of­fer our patrons, and plans to create a more econom­ical use of work space for the staff. Depending on the weather, we should break ground in March, so watch for a ground breaking cele­bration next spring.”

Coffin, though, noted some complications are likely to arise during the construction process as the library remains open to serve patrons.

“We want to keep the li­brary open as much as pos­sible during construction, so the plan will involve ‘phasing’ certain library operations. Some areas will be closed for construc­tion, and we have to move those functions elsewhere during the work,” he ex­plained. “Then we move them back when we can, and repeat the process in other areas. Details are yet to be worked out on that, following, as they must, design issues, but a lot of thought is going to have to go into those decisions, and Ginger and her staff will be working and preparing for those things early in the new year.”

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