County Working to Reduce Cost for Wheaton Library/Community Center

The proposed Wheaton Library and Community Center carries a $89 million price tag and county officials are working to optimize the scope of the project to bring that cost down.wheaton library

County Department of General Services Director David Dise presented an update of the project to a joint meeting of the Montgomery County Council’s Health and Human Services and Planning, Housing and Economic Development committees Thursday.

The project is this preliminary cost estimate phase is about $30 million over the amount used to schedule the project in the county’s capital improvements program.

Dise said he hopes to have additional schematic design work completed in the coming weeks that could change the cost estimate for the project.

According to a memo from Legislative Analyst Vivian Yao, “Executive staff currently reports a preliminary cost estimate of approximately $89 million. Executive staff indicates that this figure is unaffordable and unreasonably high given the expectation of cost savings from co-locating the facility.”

Councilmember Nancy Navarro said she is hearing from Wheaton constituents that they are concerned bringing the cost inline could eliminate certain programming promised as part of this combined community hub.

“My view is that the community has waited long enough for this project and deserves the best facility possible. I will oppose any proposal that limits the scope of the project or reduces the program that will serve my constituents,” Navarro wrote in a memo Feb. 5 to Yao.

But Dise says the original cost estimate was never an accurate true cost of the project. And, he said, scaling down the cost won’t mean scaling down services anticipated for the project.

“The (county)  executive has made it clear to us he does not intend to reduce the program if that can be avoided  and he understands the community’s concern,” Dise said. “We will look for other ways to reduce costs, in the siting of the building, building footprint, building efficiencies without adversely impacting the program.”

This facility will combine a new Wheaton Library and a new Wheaton Community Recreation Center in one building. This combined facility would provide the community with a library and community recreation center that would be equivalent to comparable libraries and recreation centers with similar service needs throughout the rest of the county, according to a description of the project on the county’s website. The project will include the combining of redundant spaces offered by both facilities, such as lobbies, meeting rooms, and restrooms, into shared spaces.

According to Yao’s memo, the Wheaton Community Center is located on park land. The project identifies the need to transfer the property from M-NCPPC to the County. Planning staff, in its February 12 memo to the Planning Board, explains that the Parks Department is continuing discussions with the County regarding a land swap or exchange and notes that Parks’ preferred option is to exchange the site for the existing Silver Spring Library facility.

The Wheaton project is estimated to begin construction in the summer 2016 and be completed by summer 2018.

Full House To Discuss the Wheaton Library and Recreation Center (PHOTOS)

New Wheaton Library

UPDATE It was a full house at the meeting regarding the new Wheaton Library and Recreation Center Project. Residents asked questions about the quantity of books in the library, computer labs, children space, gymnasium, and traffic. County officials expect to break ground on the new Wheaton Library and Recreating Center July 2016, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open […]

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County Working to Reduce Cost for Wheaton Library/Community Center

wheaton library

The proposed Wheaton Library and Community Center carries a $89 million price tag and county officials are working to optimize the scope of the project to bring that cost down. County Department of General Services Director David Dise presented an update of the project to a joint meeting of the Montgomery County Council’s Health and […]

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Krista Brick

About Krista Brick

Krista Brick is a multi-media journalist with Montgomery Community Media.

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