The Hall County Board of Commissioners heard an update on the plans for the North Hall park and library Monday at a work session.
Architect Jeff Crocker told the commission that the facility’s design incorporates as many of the features as possible while staying within the $15 million budget.
The park and community center is budgeted for $12 million dollars, while $3 million was set aside for the library. Both projects are funded by the special purpose local option sales tax.
“Trying to reconcile program requests and the budget has been a challenge,” Crocker said. “If you actually tried to accommodate all the requests, you’d have an extra 10,000 square feet.”
The entire facility, including outdoor areas, will be about 55,800 square feet, with the library making up 12,373 square feet.
“It’s just a shade more than if you take Mulberry (Creek Community Center) and add a library,” Crocker said.
Hall County Libraries Director Adrian Mixson said library officials are pleased with the design so far.
The original plan called for the North Hall library to be 15,000 square feet. But when SPLOST VI was approved in early 2009, library officials believed they would receive an extra $2 million in state funds. The funding never became a reality due to the state’s budget crisis.
“That never materialized so all we have to work with is $3 million,” Mixson said. “There’s only so much you can do with the money that’s given to you.”
Mixson said sharing a facility with the community center enabled the design for the proposed library to be as big as it is.
“For $3 million, there’s a good chance we would have had to build a considerably smaller building if we were not able to share some space and capitalize on the infrastructure,” Mixson said.
The library and the community center will share two multipurpose rooms.
“There’s some efficiency in what we’re doing here,” Crocker said.
In February, Chairman Tom Oliver proposed building the North Hall library on the same Nopone Road site as the planned North Hall park and community center.
The plan created an uproar in Clermont, where residents said they had been promised the new library would replace the aging library in their town. Clermont is suing the county for what some describe as abuse of discretion with sales tax dollars.
Many also criticized the plan to house the library in the same building as the recreational facilities.
Crocker said noise concerns were taken into account during the design.
A core area will separate the library from the community center, and thick walls will be used during construction to block sound.
Crocker said there also will be four sets of doors between the two areas.
Crocker said the North Hall facility was originally to be modeled after the East Hall and Mulberry Creek community centers.
But due to the addition of the North Hall library and natural constraints from the property, the plans had to be adjusted.
Crocker said designers thought out of the box to accommodate all the needs. For example, the planned elevated track was moved to the main level around the fitness room.
“Let’s not just let Mulberry be the guide,” he said. “Let’s make the facility the best it can be for the county.”