Gary Public Library seeking bids for main branch interior

2014-03-08T22:00:00Z 2014-03-08T22:57:05Z Gary Public Library seeking bids for main branch interiorMatt Mikus matt.mikus@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com
March 08, 2014 10:00 pm  • 

GARY | After closing its doors two years ago, the Gary Public Library main branch building at 220 W. Fifth Ave. is slated to reopen as a library and cultural center.

"It's going to be more of a library, but we want some of the cultural center concept where we have the displays, artwork from local schools, and a room to rent out to have functions or activities," said Library Interim Director Diana Morrow.

However, the museum once proposed by the library board of trustees has been scrapped.

The board is seeking bids from new contractors to renovate the main library interior. Bids are due Monday, and the board plans to open them at a special meeting Thursday.

Ideas for the new library and cultural center include an expanded Indiana Room, a renovated auditorium and about 50 computers in a larger computer lab.

The plans for renovations do not include changes to the current structure, Morrow said.

Public opposition to losing the library, including more than 5,000 signatures on petitions, led to the board dropping the museum concept.

Robert Buggs, a member of the Committee of Concerned Citizens of Gary that led the charge for signatures, said residents made the board members realize the value of the library in the community.

"Senior citizens use that library frequently," Buggs said. "Plus it's a safe haven for the transportation center a block away, and a few blocks away from the 21st Century school."

Buggs is now a member of the board. He said his main priority is to reopen the library, which he hopes can be completed by October.

Work couldn't begin on rebidding the new library construction until all the legal matters were settled with the former contractors, Powers & Sons Construction.

Morrow said it was less of a legal matter, describing it as paying the bill for the work completed before moving in a new direction.

The 50-year-old building also faced problems such as water leaking into the basement. A new water basin costing $139,000 should resolve the issue.

Morrow said the basin installation should be completed soon.

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