City council OK’s library enhancement contract

The Olathe City Council approved entering into a contract to purchase the vacant Hy-Vee building at 135th and Brougham in east Olathe.  The 68,000 square-foot-building is envisioned to be programmed for library use and relocation of the Indian Creek Library.

The City and Library recently updated the Library Master Plan that called for, among other projects, more than doubling the size of the Indian Creek Library to account for its significant lack of capacity, overcrowding, and parking shortage. 

Implementing a portion of the plan was accelerated after significant damage at the Indian Creek Library.  On March 3, 2016, a water line under the foundation ruptured, flooding the building and eroding the foundation’s subbase.  Engineers are still determining the full extent of the damage and a timeline for repairs, but at this point, repairs have been estimated to cost between $850,000 and $1.2 million and are expected to require four to six months to complete.

Rather than begin those repairs now and ultimately incur the cost and inconvenience of adding to the building, the City Council believed the most responsible action was to purchase the Hy-Vee building.  Purchasing the existing facility will provide space to not only accommodate the Library’s current space and parking needs, but also provide an opportunity to significantly enhance Library customer experiences in terms of capacity, parking, amenities, and the overall Library experience.   It is substantially more affordable per square foot than expanding the existing Library building and will hopefully allow Library service in east Olathe to resume more quickly than making repairs.  In addition, it will avoid a second closure for Library expansion.

According to Olathe Library Advisory Board Chairman Tom Glinstra, an unfortunate situation is leading to a much better solution for Library customers.  He said, “Sometimes, something very good can come from something bad (referring to the Indian Creek Library damage).”  He said, “If this works out like we ultimately hope, our customers will have a much better Library experience.   It will be a lower cost per square foot than constructing an addition to the existing building, and we hope our customers will have access to Library services more quickly than if we made repairs to the existing building.”

Olathe Library Director Emily Baker added, “This is a great opportunity to create something truly special.”  She continued, “There are examples across the country where buildings like this have been transformed into incredible libraries with new opportunities for programming and community use at a much lower cost than building new or paying for additions.”

The new building is less than a mile from the existing Indian Creek Library and has easy access to Indian Creek Trail.  The City is exploring the best ways to relocate the Library, including the possibility of renovating a portion of the building to serve customers more quickly, then renovating the remaining portions.

According to Baker, the move will be a positive change, but she will miss the current Library building.  She said, “This has been an incredibly busy building, and it is very important to our community, as evidenced by the outpouring of support after the flood.”  She continued, “However, ultimately, I believe our customers will have so much more to experience and enjoy at the new location.”

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