Spring Hill Library expansion project sees opposition among new leadership, cite roads as higher priority


Spring Hill Library expansion project sees opposition among new leadership, cite roads as higher priority

PHOTO: Design documents from Carden Company, Inc show a visualization of the new library. / Photo courtesy of the City of Spring Hill

By ALEXANDER WILLIS

During Monday night’s city meeting, Spring Hill leaders had narrowed down potential contractors for the planned library expansion down to eight choices, though some of the city’s newly elected aldermen took issue with moving forward on the project, given the city’s current state of affairs regarding its infrastructure needs.

PHOTO: City leaders discuss the new library project during Monday night’s meeting. / Photo by Alexander Willis

At 17,000 square feet, Spring Hill’s current library on Kedron Parkway has been a staple of the community since its inception in 2002, and even further back to 1975 with its original location on McLemore Street. After the city’s purchase of the former GM headquarters in late 2017, the Northfield Workforce Development Center, plans to expand the library to the new property have been ongoing.

During Monday night’s meeting of the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Assistant City Administrator Chuck Downham said staff had narrowed down bids for the project down to eight choices, and that the Brentwood-based company Carden Company, Inc came out to the lowest price at $4.173 million.

While another company – Baron Construction – actually had the lowest base bid for the project, adding additions to the projects, things such as theater lighting and electrical floor boxes, ultimately led to Carden Company, Inc having the lowest cost.

Newly-elected Alderman John Canepari pointed out some discrepancies in what some of the contractors had listed as prices for some of the additions. One such example was the price listed for theater lighting and controls – Carden Company, Inc listed the price as $30,000, with the next lowest amount more than double that amount. Canepari said he would prefer to go with the lowest base bid instead from Baron Construction, something Downham cautioned against.

“If you also look at the correspondence that was provided by the architect, you’ll see that the references that were provided, and the reference check that was made showed a very poor reference from the references that were checked for Baron, so I would caution us if we’re going to go down that path,” Downham said. “We’re going to need to look at it more from a quality standpoint as well based on the references that we’ve received to date on that particular contractor.”

Newly-elected Alderman Dan Allen raised plenty of concerns of his own, most notably the concern of the new library’s location to the very southern edge of the city.

“I heard a lot of feedback, not just about the library, but also about the Northfield Building,” Allen said. “There are many people in our community who are very concerned about this location change, and shifting the location of the library to essentially the extreme southern edge of the city… is that really the best location for the library? There are concerns that that’s alienating some of the Spring Hill citizens that normally would use this library, in favor of serving a broader user base that’s on a more regional basis out in Maury County.”

PHOTO: Design documents from Carden Company, Inc show an overhead view of the first floor of the new library project. / Photo courtesy of the city of Spring Hill

Another concern Allen mentioned was the safety aspect of placing a library – often frequented by families and children – just off of Highway 31, an often congested and busy roadway.

“There are also concerns about general safety of accessing the site,” Allen said. “The intersection on Highway 31 where we go into the Northfield Building, there are certain times of day that it’s very difficult to turn left out of there, and I think we really present a safety issue. We’re talking about directing families and young children there… I think we need to be very careful and cognizant of how that gets addressed.”

Ultimately, Allen said he could not support voting in favor of moving the project along given all of his concerns, and that the city needs to focus on what’s most important for the time being – its roads.

“It’s not personal; it doesn’t mean I don’t like the library, it doesn’t mean I have any issues with staff,” Allen continued. “I’ve got some things that I’ve got to hold true to, and that’s focusing on priorities over amenities, and I just can’t vote to accelerate movement on an amenity when I just don’t feel like we have the road capacity to be able to get there to take advantage of it.”

Newly-elected Alderman Hazel Nieves shared similar sentiments to Allen, saying that as a new voice for Spring Hill residents, she could not support the library expansion project at this time, given the current state of the city’s roads.

“I too heard that continually, that many people in our community do not feel that the expansion of this library is really in the best interest of the city considering the priority level, and the priorities are our roads and infrastructure,” Nieves said. “People want us to focus on getting our infrastructure, our roads in place. It’s what many of you ran on to be aldermen here as well, because this is the number one thing in our community. I have the greatest respect for our library, but I don’t believe it is the right time.”

The vote on whether to move forward with a contractor on the library expansion project will be held during the next meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, scheduled for Monday, May 20 at City Hall.

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