Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Library Lite



I find it amazing that the Silver Spring Library building, which just broke ground this week, is already three million over budget. Disappointingly, there are already discussions as to what features are going to get purged from the current design to reduce the project's cost. Some possibilities include "eliminating a floor of offices, leaving a floor of offices unfinished, moving meeting rooms, splitting elevators into two separate areas and reducing office sizes".

The "good" news is that the economy is so crappy and people so desperate for work, the County believes it can get the work done at cut-rate pricing, offsetting at least some of the cost overrun.

I found interesting the "community's" insistence that the escalators in the current plan be preserved. Maintaining escalators is a costly burden - just ask Metro! Why not just substitute stairs for the elevators? Shouldn't the county be promoting healthy habits such as walking up stairs, anyway? If you are physically unable to do so, there's always the elevator.

One aspect of the current design I don't fully comprehend is how two of the library's five planned floors are allotted to Pyramid Atlantic, a non-governmental arts organization. I have nothing against Pyramid Atlantic, and I'm generally in favor of supporting the arts, but how do these organizations get such sweetheart deals in pricey taxpayer-funded buildings? Round House Theater occupies a good portion of the new Civic Building rent-free, though in response to public scrutiny they gave some of it back for general community use.

And to the many vociferous proponents of the library bridge - does this new revelation about the library's cost change your stance on the addition of a feature that would add (at least) $700K to the project's price tag?

I still contend that the County should have bought City Place and converted it into a library. Besides a superior central location, the entire building would have only cost $22.8M (vs. the new library's $32 million), it has plenty of escalators, and best of all it already has a pedestrian bridge! Furthermore, it has street-level tenants that would provide monthly rental income. You missed your chance, MoCo.

Also...

- A couple years back I half-jokingly suggested that DTSS install the Mosquito anti-loitering equipment in response to recent incidents in that area. Now, as a result of teenage misbehavior, the owners of the Gallery Place development in D.C. have installed that very device outside the entrance to the Metro station. This was done with the blessing of the District government. It will be interesting to see what effect this has.

- Be aware that a new speed camera has been installed in front of White Oak Middle School on New Hampshire Avenue.

- Aaron Neville will be headlining the Silver Spring Jazz Festival on September 11.



41 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm none too thrilled with installing a Mosquito device at Gallery Place, particularly when done by a private business and not something more official. It's targeted at kids, but it generally affects people up to 25 years old and probably some over that age too.

Private business installs device that drives 18 to 25-year-olds away from public space? (Sound carries and all.) And it violates noise ordinances-that it's a high frequency device that most older people can't hear doesn't seem to really save it from that.

Patrick Thornton said...

Any wagers on how over budget the library will be when it is all said and done?

The best way to save money would be to just leave some of the government office portion of the building unfinished and unused until the economy rebounds. This is primarily designed to be a library, and the library features should be preserved.

The pedestrian bridge is starting to look like an even bigger waste of money. It's a terrible idea, even if free, but with the cost overruns it's an unfathomable idea.

I can't believe lazy suburbanites are still pushing so hard for it. Make no mistake about it, the proponents of the bridge don't care about people in wheelchairs. No, they want to do a little walking as possible, preferably, with a little of it as possible being in DTSS.

Anonymous said...

The device is meant to keep people from loitering. From standing there (not spending money) doing absolutely nothing. And often that means looking "hard" and for trouble. If you're walking by, or into a store, you'll barely notice it. If you are standing there for more than 10 minutues or so, it will start to drive you nuts. And then you leave.

If I have to sit on the metro and listen to everybody's annoying music blaring through their headphones while I'm reading, then kids spending absolutely no money in Chinatown can listen to the mosquito, or choose to leave. This would be great for outside the Majestic in Silver Spring.

Anonymous said...

The idea to have put the library into the current city place is a great one... too bad we only have morons working for us in MoCo.

Giulia said...

Did I just read that you're talking about escalators/elevators vs. stairs? I live in a walk-up, never had a car, etc. Listen, I'm on the verge of being diagnosed with something that I hope to bleep isn't MS. Two friends have it & they are rather healthy looking 30ish women.

Please tell me that I misread what you just wrote...because if my brain fog is not inhibiting my interpretation...wow.

And to anonymous people who label everyone who works in Montgomery County as 'morons'...that's zero contribution to the discussion.

SSS - I have separate matter to send you via email. Concerns resto looking for some space in SSp. They asked my opinion. I gave it but said that I'd ask some SSp bloggers who cover this sort of retail stuff. Interested? I'll check back.

Cheers.

PS: Thanks for covering these issues...btw

Anonymous said...

"too bad we only have morons working for us in MoCo"

Do we need to break down the hundreds of millions of dollars that MoCo has spent this decade to make DTSS what it is today? Hold your tongue, troll.

Anonymous said...

"Hold your tongue, troll."

Easy there, Muppet. Spending $32m to knock down several structures and build a library when you have a very large,failing "mall" sitting across the street for $22.8m is, um, moronic. Insisting on keeping escalators instead of saving money when you are already $3m over budget is, um, moronic. (the handicapped, elderly and others who are too fat to walk up stairs can take the elevators). Contemplating building a pedestrian bridge over a street instead of making people face the horror and difficulty of performing the simple act of walking across the street is, um, moronic.

Okay Muppet? Okay.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more on the city place comment. With a big atrium it would have been a winner (with a sky light above cause it is dreary). How about cladding it with some brick instead of all that glass? I don't know if it would save money for construction, but would definatly help on the gas and electric bill.

Anonymous said...

"Spending $32m to knock down several structures"

You have never been to DTSS if you don't know that those "structures" were beyond worthless. This is a perfect use of the lot and to remake the mall into a library would cost a whole lot more than just buying the building, moron. None of this even speaks to my point about bashing MoCo so feel free to say something educated or at least relevant.

Sligo said...

Giulia,

I'm not sure what you thought I was saying, but my point was simply that those who are unable to take stairs can use the elevator instead. There's no ADA requirement for escalators.

I have no idea why they'd think of putting escalators in a library in the first place. Usually escalators are for high traffic areas: subways, malls, etc. This seems like an odd place to install one.

Anonymous said...

"None of this even speaks to my point about bashing MoCo."

Okay Muppet, let's give it another go! Your point about bashing MoCo was missing the boat. The discussion was not on whether MoCo did great things the last 10 years. It was about the library, which is being built now. Currently. Presently.

You actually don't make a completely idiotic point regarding how much it would take to convert City Place into a library. However, I'd be willing to bet that you could do a decent job with the $9 or so million you'd be saving. Also, even if the county had to pay a bit more it would be worth it to turn City Place into something productive. The corner that will soon be the library was indeed useless, however where City Place is located is far more important to the future of Silver Spring.

Regardless, it is unfortunately a moot point. What's done is done, but the county can make some smart decisions (again, talking about the library Muppet, not what they did 10 years ago, try to keep up!)now by refusing the pedestrian bridge idea, and scrapping the escalators, at the very least.

Anonymous said...

off topic, a guy's got a gun in Discovery http://www.tbd.com/articles/2010/09/discovery-communications-headquaters-in-silver-spring-evacuated-7172.html

Anonymous said...

1 hostage taken at Discovery.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like this is the same crazy Asian guy that's picketed the building before. Sligo's mocked him multiple times in the past.

Anonymous said...

Unleash the Chompy!

Silver Spring: Then and Again said...

Imagine if Chompy were still in place and the live helicopter shots the country would have been treated to!

Anonymous said...

My question is how come we can get a nice image of what the SS Library will look like before they've even broken ground, but any images of the Transit Center (which broke ground eons ago) are at best vague, and mostly look cartoon-ish without any detail?
Does anyone, anywhere know what the Transit Center will look like (and please don't send me a link to that crappy rendering on the Montgomery Planning site which shows buildings just going off into the sky)?

CBMLphoto said...

Neighboring Howard County has an excellent library system. How is it that our more populated MoCo cannot have such distinguished public services?

lilkunta said...

How come old people dont hear the sound device?


I never thought about turning Sh!tty Place into a library. That is a good idea. Too late now thought.

i thihk the escalators should be scrapped. How do we go about tell MoCo that?

lilkunta said...

Sligo I think you should take away the 'anon' comment option. I want to reply to 1 of those comments but alot of ppl posted anon so it is hard to differentiaite.


Those who want to remain anon dont have to use there real name.

lilkunta said...

@ guilia : so are you saying that bc you lived in a walkup you have MS? So you say the SSL needs an escalator?

lilkunta said...

rockville just opened a huge library. how did they do it? did they have both county & city funding? was it over budget? does it have excalotrs & ped bridge?

lilkunta said...

per this
http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/libtmpl.asp?url=/content/libraries/BranchInfo/aboutrolibrary.asp

The funding was 26.3mill, but what are the real #s?

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