Improving the overall parking lot safety and flow will take precedence over creating additional parking spaces, as the Daviess County Public Library continues to move forward with a proposed parking lot improvement plan.
Erin Waller, library director, said during the DCPL board meeting Wednesday that she has received two proposals for the project by RBS Design Group.
The original proposal includes creating 27 additional parking spaces by paving the library’s empty Maple Avenue lot, turning the existing parking spaces perpendicular to the library building to create a better flow of traffic, widening the Ford Avenue entrance and installing a drive-up book drop.
“That is the original, fully using the lot on Maple (Avenue),” Waller said. “What they are estimating could cost over $600,000.”
Waller said the high price tag is due to the amount of water retention and water quality work that would have to be completed below Frederica Street, something that was initially overlooked when the library was first given an estimate for the project.
“The stuff they have to do underground is big and expensive,” Waller said. “It is a lot of work.”
The alternative plan only uses half the Maple Avenue lot, which means the underground work would not be as extensive and therefore less expensive.
“So what (the engineer) is proposing here is keeping the existing lot as it is, widening the entrance and exit on Ford (Avenue) and just using half the lot on Maple (Avenue), which will add 24 spots,” Waller said.
While the estimate for the alternative plan is for between $85,000 and $110,000, it does not include a book drop or improvements to the library’s existing parking lot.
“The biggest issue I have with this Plan B is it does not address the existing issues of flow of traffic,” Waller said.
Board members agreed that when they hear comments about the library parking lot, they are generally more focused on the difficulty of maneuvering through it, rather than there not being enough parking spaces available.
Michelle Drake, board president, said she has seen times when the existing parking lot is full, but it is a rare occasion and is usually for a special event at the library, such as the ones that involve live animals.
“When people talk about our parking lot in our community surveys, when they talk to you guys about the parking lot, I think it is just a general overall not liking the parking lot,” Waller said to board members.
DCPL board members agreed that Waller should make some modifications to the alternative plan, such as adding a drive-up book drop and making improvements to the existing parking lot to improve flow and safety, and then vote on going out for a bid on the project.
During its June meeting, the DCPL board was informed that while the original estimate for a parking lot expansion was between $225,000 and $250,000, the engineer had not taken into consideration the underground water work that would have to be completed.