EVERETT — The long-expected expansion of the Evergreen Branch of the Everett Public Library is getting pushed back for budget reasons.
Construction, which includes a lengthy library closure, was scheduled to start this spring. A grand opening was slotted for early 2019.
Now, that’s all likely to take place a few months later than planned, said Paul Kaftanski, the city’s interim public works director.
Earlier this year, the project was paused to see if changes could be made to save money, he told the City Council during a recent briefing.
“There is a delay, but it is a worthwhile delay,” he said.
The work is supposed to add 5,580 square feet of space to the library, an increase of about 65 percent. Plans also call for 30 additional parking spots, new meeting and study rooms, updated seating, and another restroom.
The initial price tag, from around 2013, was projected at up to $4 million. That’s now grown closer to $8.6 million, including design and construction, according to the city.
The Everett Public Library system includes the main library downtown and the branch on Evergreen Way.
The branch serves the south end of the city, where the population is expected to keep growing. In 2017, patrons there checked out more than 387,000 items, and librarians answered 22,000 reference questions, said Abigail Cooley, the city’s library director. Nearly 500 programs were held for children and adults.
The collection size at the branch is working well, she said. However, there’s a need for more flexible space that can be used for programs and groups. The construction plans call for new options for people to work, use the internet and study.
“We’re just really excited for it to happen,” she said.
The city’s cost review is likely to wrap up in early March, Kaftanski said. One idea, among others, could be simplifying the landscaping. After the review, the City Council would be asked to seek bids.
Kaftanski also cited the difficulties of the construction market. Smaller public projects, including those for Everett schools, have not seen as many bidders in recent months because of heated competition across the region.
In other city news, staff continue to work on Mayor Cassie Franklin’s orders regarding the public works building. The complex, on Cedar Street, has been deemed unsafe for an earthquake, and redevelopment could surpass $100 million.
The mayor in January asked for short-term solutions, including potentially rehousing employees in portables. City leaders are looking to come up with a fix in the next two years that will last about a decade, Kaftanski said.
The City Council is likely to receive another briefing on the topic in late March. The discussion could postpone the city’s potential purchase of the Snohomish Health District building at 3020 Rucker Ave.