The first meeting of the recently formed committee to decide what to do with the Hennessey Library was last Wednesday morning, June 8th. Jack Quirk, Chairman of the committee, started with, “My goal for this committee is not to return to the Trustees until we have a complete, executable plan that includes the data to support our suggestion, as well as a budget and a plan to fulfill the budget amount. Remove emotion, and work on the facts. The actual library is only part of the equation. I don’t want to get stuck on just one topic. We need to look at the big picture. The three areas that need to be addressed are The Library, The Museum, and The Building.”
The group talked about how the building had an emotional background, but it is not a historic building. Quirk said, “The challenge with the current building is that it has reached Functional Obsolescence. In its present form, it is not cost-effective and is not serving the community to its fullest. I want a no duct tape solution.” Committee member Richard Simunek said, “I want to address the not duct tape part. This building is in fine shape with the old paneling and carpet. It has character.” The two were at odds with the library building solution. Quirk talked about a complete demo of the inside of the building, leaving nothing but the outside walls and building out all new walls and infrastructure on the inside, essentially creating a brand new building. Simunek seemed to think that with repairs, the structure would be fine.
The group talked about completely tearing down all the buildings on the property and building a new municipal building. This new building, Quirk said, “Could house the Town Hall, Police, Fire, Library, and Museum, all in one building with lots of parking in front.” Quirk said, “Another option would be to reconfigure the current building and add on to include Town Hall, Police, Fire, Library, and Museum. We could flatten the floor in the auditorium area and make it two-story, putting the library and museum on the second floor and the first floor a large community room.”
The group talked about how to fund a project this big. This building is about 22,000 square ft. Nowadays, public building construction costs about $400 per square ft., costing about $8 million to renovate completely. This new municipal building could combine public and private money through a foundation. Quirk asked Simunek if he could give his 3 million dollar gift up front rather than restrict it to only interest. Simunek responded, “absolutely not! I want this money to go on forever to maintain the building.” The group discussed how this would be an excellent base to build upon, knowing that the building maintenance would be covered for a very long time. The group agreed to hire CWA Group in Norman for $3,500 to conduct a feasibility study to see if the building is worth saving. Quirk suggested that Simunek pay half and the town pay the other half, and Simunek agreed. If the group decided to keep the existing building, the next step would be to do “as-built drawings with a complete set of prints for $10,000, which is necessary to do a complete renovation of the building.
The meeting was held at the library. Pictured (from left) Town Administrator, Tiffany Tillman, Town Trustee, David Jones, Library Board President, Ann Taylor, Town Trustee, Richard Simunek and Jack Quirk.