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Library renovation begins

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Construction crews use a crane to hoist a large air conditioning unit onto the roof of the Alpena County Library on Thursday. The work was phase one of a library restoration project expected to amp up over the next several months. The main phase of construction is expected in the second quarter of next year and is expected to take about a year to complete.

ALPENA — The first phase of a renovation project to improve Alpena County Library began on Thursday as a portion of the new heating and cooling system was installed on the roof.

The library will soon release to the public visuals of what the project should look like once complete.

The project was made possible after Alpena County voters renewed a 0.25-mill, 20-year property tax expected to generate a touch over $232,000 a year to pay for the $3.7 million renovation.

A large crane towered over a portion of downtown Alpena on Thursday as crews moved steel beams and other equipment from the ground to the roof of the library on 1st Avenue.

Library Executive Director Eric Magness-Eubank said crews are installing a new air conditioning unit that will tie in with the current system until that system is updated later in the construction. He said he hoped this part of the project could have been done earlier in the summer, but the design process, part orders, and the availability of contractors forced it to be pushed back.

In the next several months, there will be a lot of movement behind the scenes as officials finalize financing for the project, craft a final design of the building, and plan for how operations and services will continue while construction is taking place, Magness-Eubank said.

He said several options are being considered about how business will be conducted during renovations, including possibly moving part or all of the library to alternate locations.

“We can move all or part of the library to one location or several locations, or we can play musical chairs in the building, a move from section to section of it while the construction and asbestos removal is taking place,” he said. “We have nothing to announce right now, however.”

The public has yet to see a visual representation of what the project will look like once it is complete. Magness-Eubank said that will need to wait until after some public input sessions take place. He said he expects those to be held in October or November, then plan designs should be competed and available for public viewing in the first quarter of 2020.

The large portion of the construction, he said, is expected to begin in the second quarter of next year take about a year to complete.

“Next month, we should have a much clearer idea of what we will be doing and what the designs may look like,’ Magness-Eubank said. “We are excited to release the design to the public.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.