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Residents get update on new NFM Library

By Staff | Oct 21, 2015

County leaders gave North Fort Myers residents an early progress report on the new library that will come to the area.

It will be built, just not tomorrow.

County Commissioner Brian Hamman, Lee County Library Director Sheldon Kaye, and Damon Grant from Facilities Construction Management were among those who discussed the progress of the library Thursday at a morning meeting in the library’s meeting room.

Hamman said the property for the library is in the rezoning process, which is critical for the future of the facility and which must be passed by the county commission.

“I’ve always been impressed by the community here and that we were able to put a good list of what we wanted to do, and they’re doable requests,” Hamman said. “Hopefully everything will go as planned.”

Christine Brady, assistant director for the library system, introduced the key players in the construction phase and set the approximate timeline (or at least order of construction).

Brady said the rezoning process usually takes 6-9 months, but is confident it could be done sooner if the two required public hearings are performed in a timely manner.

In the meantime, Brady said they would begin the search for a design team, which she said would be done hopefully by the end of the zoning process.

“That doesn’t mean the design will start. It means we will have a design team in place,” Brady said. “Once we finish the zoning process, we can close on the property and get started.”

Once that is done, it goes to the hearing examiner and a public hearing for his recommendation before going back to the commission for another hearing, which will decide whether to accept them or not.

The design process will take roughly a year, during which time they will select a construction manager. The design is expected to be a one-story, 25,000-square-foot facility with ample parking. The old structure will be demolished, with the library relocating temporarily during construction.

Grant said the design will match with the landscape and architecture of the area, with an “Old Florida” style being among the options, with a tin roof to make it similar to the rec center.

Once construction starts, it should take between 15 and 18 months for completion, though Grant said he doesn’t want to be held to those estimates.

Among the troublesome areas, Grant said, is a number of heritage trees, which must be preserved whenever possible or replaced with a high quality tree if any have to come down.

“We have a process. I hate to throw out an answer because when we do we get held to that and there’s work that needs to be done,” Grant said. “We had hoped downtown would take 15 months, but there was contamination, and things that come up to throw a monkey wrench in things.”

Those involved said things went well, with everyone impressed by the residents’ passion in bringing in a new library.

“The current library is utilized and so it’s great to see the support on a county project,” Brady said. “We’re ahead of schedule and we hope to get this and the Bonita libraries done on schedule.”

“I’m delighted we had the expertise in the room today to tell the community the progression from here on out,” said Linda Yorde, president of the Friends of North Fort Myers Library. “We have the give the library task force credit for presenting facts and figures to the commissioners over the past two years and it helped them understand the need is here.”