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In 4-2 Vote, F.C. Council Approves First $880K for Library Renovation

CHIEF LIBRARIAN Jenny Carroll spoke before the City Council Monday night. (Photo: News-Press)

The first $880,000 of funds for the renovation and expansion of the Mary Riley Styles Library in Falls Church was approved by a 4-2 vote of the F.C. City Council Monday night, with the majority led by Mayor David Tarter citing the will of the voters in a landslide passage of a public referendum in support of the effort. Other Council members, Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly, Phil Duncan and Dan Sze, cited the same reason, Sze stating, “The people voted to do it, and I am encumbered to execute it in the best manner possible.”

Citing the burdens of the George Mason High School and City Hall projects, Council members Letty Hardi and Ross Litkenhous voted against, saying they were for it, but the timing was wrong. “It’s too much to do all at once,” Hardi said, “Too many balls in the air at the same time.”

But with the go-ahead from the Council Monday, the Library Board of Trustees, with a strong representation at the meeting, will host three community meetings to refresh and update citizens on the library’s expansion and renovation, to be held next Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the library’s conference room (120 N. Virginia Ave, Falls Church).

One of the undetermined questions that could impact the cost of the project (the 2016 bond referendum approved $8.7 million) is whether, or for how long, the library will remain open during the two-year renovation.

The approval Monday was for a Task Order Award to be given under an existing contract with the BKV Group, Inc., for pre-design services, program confirmation, schematic design, design development, construction documents, and construction management at risk evaluation/selection, construction administration and warranty/close out. The work will also include all necessary architectural and engineering services to apply for LEED Silver certification.

$8.7 million was approved for the library expansion and renovation in the November 2016 bond referendum, which passed with an overwhelming 66-34 percent margin (4,902 “yes” votes to 2,578 “no votes), with $7 million allocated for construction, costs, furniture and moving and storage fees, while $1.3 million allocated for professional design, permitting fees and project management services.

The goals of the project are to bring the facility into Americans With Disabilities Act compliance, replace or repair existing building infrastructure, maintain the capacity of the existing physical collection (approximately 150,000 volumes), and provide additional public space and storage space, including the Children’s Room, meeting space, quiet seating and reading areas and the Local History Room.

The project will include construction of a 6,000 square foot two-story addition to the west side of the site, and a renovation of the existing 18,500 square foot space. Once completed, the library will be 25,100 square feet and the entrance of the building will be relocated to Park Avenue, with the aim of better connecting to Cherry Hill Park and City Hall across the street.

In other Council developments Monday:

Appointed to the Campus Coordinating Committee for the George Mason High School campus and economic development project were the following: Mayor David Tarter, Council member Letty Hardi, Planning Commissioner Russell Wodiska and Economic Development Authority member Michael Novotny. (The School Board Tuesday appointed its chair Lawrence Webb and Justin Castillo to the committee with appointments from the PTA and the Professional Employees Advisory Board to come).

Other Council appointments Monday included: Donald Camp and Kathleen Tysse to the Library Board of Trustees, Rachelle Barimony to the Economic Development Authority, Joan Thomas to the Long Term Care Coordinating Council, David Calabrese and John Misleh to the Board of Zoning Appeals, Kathryn Chandler to the Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, Linda Valentino to the Historic Architecture Review Board, Isaac Heard and Paul Baldino to the Citizens Advisory Board on Transportation, Joseph Douglas Sr. to the Towing Advisory Board and Edward Rose to the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board.