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Tuesday August 20th, 2019 8:20AM

Gainesville leaders told library and Olympic Park upgrades progressing smoothly

By Marc Eggers Anchor / Reporter

GAINESVILLE – A pair of high-profile projects in Gainesville are underway and on schedule; that was the report given to the Gainesville City Council at its work session Thursday morning.

Demolition work at the Hall County Library’s main branch will soon commence now that the staff and library materials have temporarily relocated across the street, that according to architect Jeff Crocker.  He told council members, “The great news is, that as of right now, everything is still on budget.”

Crocker said the renovation and 9236-square feet expansion of the half-century old facility is long overdue.  “For a county of our size the library is way undersized.”

Crocker referred to a list of priorities for the renovation developed by the library as the result of extensively surveying the community and staff personnel, and said everything on the list will be resolved or remedied, except one item: additional parking.  “There’s no more land so we can’t expand the parking lot.”

Crocker told the council there was a surprisingly common request by library patrons who participated in a series of focus groups leading into renovation design plans.  “Probably the number one item was to keep the staircase.  It’s an iconic piece; it’s a really nice feature…that’s been a ‘sacred cow’ in all our discussions.”

Crocker said changes library users will notice almost immediately upon entering the facility once it re-opens will be an increase of daylight.  He explained that although the ground level now has extensive glass surfaces, they are beneath an overhang and that prevents natural light from entering the building.

He explained that the new first floor walls will be all glass and moved out to align with the second floor overhang - “Squaring off the building, if you will,” Crocker said - and a 6000-square feet addition will be added to the second floor with covered parking beneath.

“We’ve added an additional 9000-square feet to the building without losing any parking, so we’re pretty excited about that,” Crocker said.

The project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2020. (An architectural rendering of the exterior of the completed project is among the photos above.)

In a second report, City Manager Bryan Lackey spoke of the changes underway at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park since the city's request to take over sole management of the lakeside facility.

Lackey said a resolution authorizing the city to apply for grant monies from the Appalachian Regional Commission Grant Program for the Phase II Renovations of the Lake Lanier Olympic Park was ready for the city council’s approval.

Lackey explained that even though recent legislation (House Bill 650) annexing the park into the city had not yet been signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp, city staff wanted to be proactive and have the authorization ready once the measure is signed by the governor.

Lackey said there already was an existing agreement between the park and the ARC, but with the pending annexation of the park into the city it was wise to formally change the language of the agreement to reflect the city’s ownership of the facility.

“It’s really just a transfer of the contract from the park to the city,” he said.

After the meeting Lackey said the amount of the grant application was subject to the ARC’s final determination, but it could be as much as $600,000.  The city would be liable for 5-percent of the determined award amount.

Use of the funds remains unchanged from those announced earlier, Lackey said.  “It would include what I call the ‘left-hand-side-of-the-road’ as you’re going north.  Phase 2 is going to address, most likely, the boathouse renovations, to help the two clubs that operate out of there. There may be a pavilion associated with that, improvements to the restrooms are sorely needed out there.”

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Gainesville leaders told library and Olympic Park upgrades progressing smoothly
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