By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD —With a handful of speeches and the turning of a few shovels full of dirt, a $7 million project years in the making culminated in Marshfield today. The Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library officially crossed the divide from a fundraising and planning project to a construction project.
“I’ve been involved with this project since 2005 when I was a common council member,” Mayor Chris Meyer said. “I thought, ‘Not in my lifetime,’ but here we are 10 short years later breaking ground on a beautiful new facility that really epitomizes what we talk about when we talk about community.”
Marshfield Public Library Board President Jean Swenson spoke to the crowd of well over 100 people in attendance as she compared the fundraising campaign to the operations of Everett Roehl’s trucking company. Just as trucks need a driver, this project needed a driving force, who she said was Marshfield Public Library Director Lori Belongia. The valuable load a truck carries Swenson compared to the “history, knowledge, skills, activities, and culture we share” that a library holds. A truck, Swenson said, is built by many workers, which she equated to all those that donated and supported the library campaign.
The Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library will be a 35,000-square-foot facility that project organizers say is designed for the digital age and will be adjoined to the current library, which will become a community center. The completion date for the new library is anticipated to be late August of 2016.
The library “will feature an array of computer and charging stations, state-of-the-art technology, expanded areas for children and teens, small study rooms, spacious reading areas on both floors, and a new Family History and Genealogy Center,” said a press release from the Marshfield Library & Community Center Capital Campaign.
The community center will be 36,000 square feet and will house the Aging and Disability Resource Center, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the Marshfield History Museum as well as expanded space for senior citizens. The current Marshfield Senior Community Center will be razed as part of the library construction, and senior citizens have temporarily assumed space in the Marshfield Mall as a short-term replacement.
“What a great day this is for the city of Marshfield,” said Bill Hocking co-chair of the project’s capital campaign. “We are all incredibly proud to be part of this project, and we’re also proud to be citizens of Marshfield. What an incredibly generous and forward looking community we live in.”
The city has committed $3 million toward the project while private donations have totaled over $4.7 million so far. Constructing the library and making the new community center fully functional are phase one of the project. Phase two focuses on additional enhancements to the community center, for which donations are still being accepted.
“This is probably by the time I’m done being mayor going to be the point I look back on with the fondest memories and the project I’m going to be proudest of,” Meyer said.
Bids for initial site work and utilities on the library project have been accepted and awarded to Doine Excavating Inc., but all other construction elements of the project will be rebid in mid-August with the plan to have a full bid package ready for common council consideration in early September.
Rebidding is the result of an error in the planning process in which the design firm Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc. created renderings for a 41,000-square-foot facility rather than the planned 35,000-square-foot project, which elevated the cost of many of the initial bids.