The Queen Anne’s County Commissioners voted Tuesday night to move forward in the design phase of the proposed expansion of the Kent Island Library by signing letters to the state certifying that the county will match the $1 million grant from the Maryland State Library in the FY 2020 county budget.
Moving forward does not require the county to make a final determination on whether to expand the library until firm construction estimates and the state’s cost share are determined.
Last year, when researching the cost of expanding the Kent Island Library branch, the county estimated that the county’s share of the project, above and beyond what the state might provide, would cost between $5.7 million and $6.2 million. However, when the architectural firm Manns Woodward Studios Inc. presented three plans, each varying in square footage, the cost to the county came in at $6 million, $7.2 million and $8.9 million.
The firm, which is providing their services pro bono, was asked to go back to the drawing board to ensure that the final design remains within the county’s original cost estimates. Additionally, the commissioners said they needed to weigh this capital project against other projects, such as needed school improvements, to make sure the county is being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars.
County Commissioner Chris Corchiarino said, “When the expansion estimate came in higher than initially predicted, the Commissioners told the library and its architect to sharpen their pencils and come back with a revised plan with an impactful reduction in construction cost. They then worked diligently to produce updated plans which lowered the cost. While I would like to see further reductions, I did not want the County to miss out on the opportunity for this $1,000,000 grant from the state. This vote allows us to lock in this opportunity while the library works to raise additional funds and further refine the renovation plans.”
In FY 2018 the commissioners allocated $325,000 for the design and development of the expansion, which matched a state grant in the same amount.