Shelby Library opening delayed to early 2022

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 12, 2021

 The new Shelby Township Library’s tentative opening date has been pushed back to early 2022.

The new Shelby Township Library’s tentative opening date has been pushed back to early 2022.

Photo provided by Brad Bates

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many things were put on hold including the new Shelby Township Library’s tentative open date, which has now been pushed back to early 2022.

Early estimates for the completion of the new library were planned to be in the spring of 2021. The township announced the revised schedule in April.

While delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed the date of opening back, the township reported that construction is progressing and the project is still within budget.

Exterior finishes are nearing completion on the 26,000-square-foot library, which will occupy its own building on the municipal campus at 52610 Van Dye Ave. Indoor construction is progressing with wall studs and rough electrical and plumbing work said to be completed.

The new library more than doubles the current facility’s footprint at 51680 Van Dyke Ave. from 12,400 square feet to 26,000 square feet. The new Shelby Township Library will feature a children’s area, community event spaces, a teen room, a technology lab, individual study rooms, a children’s storytime and programming space, a reading lounge and additional space for library materials.

The township held a “building breaking” — instead of a groundbreaking — with the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the municipal campus Dec. 18 at the old Parks, Recreation and Maintenance facility, which is the location of the new Shelby Township Library.

Shelby Township Trustee John Vermeulen said in a press release that in addition to the project being delayed, some of the supplies being used to build the library have been subject to price increases.

“As Board liaison for the library construction, I am pleased to report that we are moving ahead on budget. Many of our construction component costs rose up to 200 percent, and given material and labor availability, our opening will be delayed six months from our original planning,” he said.

He said COVID-19 hit the project, like others, hard.

“There are delays to the construction due to the initial mandated shutdown and additional delays because of social distancing and quarantine requirements. These delays slowed the relocation of utilities to complete the building foundations and forced winter construction. This required additional costs to the project, and we estimate the project’s hard and soft impact costs to be approximately $170,000,” he said.

Vermeulen, Township Engineer Carol Thurber and Library Director Katie Ester reviewed those cost increases with the township’s Financial Management Department. Their projections have the new library completed within the established $11.2 million budget.

The Shelby Township Board of Trustees approved the budget for the facility at its Nov. 20, 2018, meeting. The board later awarded the construction contract for the facility to Bernco Inc., of St. Clair Shores, for $9,160,000.

Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said in press release that he was pleased that the project could stay on budget during tough times.

“My hat goes off to Trustee Vermeulen, Carol Thurber and Library Director Katie Ester for managing this project. It’s one thing to manage a project as unique as a community’s first standalone library within a 26,000-square-foot facility. To stay on budget during a global pandemic with variables in terms of labor and material costs, though, is nothing short of miraculous,” he said.

Residents can track the progress of the construction on the library’s website at shelbytwp.org/library. The webpage provides access to an outdoor construction camera that updates every 30 minutes. The camera also gives users an option to view a time-lapse video of the project.

Along with the camera feed, the website shows interior construction photos, floor plans and renderings of how the library will look on the municipal campus.

“We’ve forged ahead with this project through some grueling challenges in the midst of a pandemic, but we are proud that we’ve planned well and have managed to hold tight to our approved budget,” Ester said in a press release.

Ester said she has been on the worksite and has seen the progress already, and she can’t wait to be able to see the community enjoy all the new activities at the library in 2022.

“Every day that I’m on the job site, I see new progress that means we are just that much closer to seeing the building completed. I know that our community is anxious to see the building open because I am asked multiple times a day about the progress and I’m always happy to share the latest updates. We are planning so many beautiful, functional and unique features in the new building and I’m so eager for the community to be able to walk through our front doors. So while it will be a little later than we had initially planned, it will be worth the wait,” she said in an email.

Ester said that when the library does reach completion and opens to the public, she thinks the public will love it.

“As the interior starts to take shape and new features begin to emerge, I become more eager for the day that I can share this building with our community. I know that every construction meeting, planning session, building expense, inspection, walkthrough and all the time and hard work our project team has invested will result in a beautiful, engaging community library for our residents to use and enjoy for generations,” she said.

For more information on the project, contact the Shelby Township Library at (586) 739-7414 or email shelbylib@libcoop.net.

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