County scaling back Silver Spring library
$3M budget overrun leads to cuts; escalator will remain
The Silver Spring library will not be as grand as initially envisioned, due to a $3 million budget overrun.
At a meeting Thursday, county officials and developers met with about 30 residents to discuss options that scale back the $32 million project. Those options include eliminating a floor of offices, leaving a floor of offices unfinished, moving meeting rooms, splitting elevators into two separate areas and reducing office sizes, said David Dise, director of the Montgomery County Department of General Services.
"The decisions are basically made on a weighting scale," he said. "What are those things that are most advantageous to the original plan?"
The current design boasts three floors for the library, two floors for nonprofit arts center Pyramid Atlantic, a coffee shop, county offices, public meeting space, a Purple Line station and an escalator.
"We are proceeding with the escalator as part of the building," Dise said, quelling the fears of residents at the meeting who said that feature was important to them.
The county's Department of General Services will make final decisions in the next few weeks.
Kathlin Smith, chair of the Silver Spring Library Advisory Committee, said she hopes the planners will look at securing resources in a way that won't affect the design of the building.
She suggested looking for more public funding, similar to that used for the Fillmore music venue, a project recently granted an extra $2.6 million in unused construction funds from other county projects. The rest of the Fillmore's $3.2 million budget shortfall will come from a construction contingency fund for the project from Live Nation.
Smith's other recommendations included reaching out to private individuals interested in supporting libraries or requesting state funding, since the site incorporates a Purple Line station.
"We should look into being creative so that we can secure the resources necessary to build the library that we need," Smith said.
But Dise said additional public funding for the library would have to come from other Department of Libraries projects that are under budget, and no such projects have been identified. Dise added the county does not reach out to private donors, and the Purple Line project resources are just as strained as the library's.
Karen Roper, an East Silver Spring Citizens Association board member, said she does not know if the county will keep in mind all of the community's suggestions.
"I feel they heard us, but I don't know how much of a difference it will make," she said. "I think they will take into consideration some of our input, not others."
The Department of General Services cannot realistically meet everyone's requests, Dise said.
"We can't give everything to everyone," he said. "But we have listened to the community and we have taken their views under serious consideration."