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Appleton mayor explains why library moved out before project bids were locked in

The construction bids to renovate the Appleton Public Library revealed they were $14 million over the original budget of $40.4 million
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Posted at 10:37 PM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 23:37:01-04

APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) — As reported on Wednesday, the bids to renovate the Appleton Public Library far exceeded what was proposed in the original budget of $40.4 million.

In fact, $14 million over.

NBC 26 previously reported that the public library in downtown on Oneida Street would be moving to a temporary location. That location is the former Best Buy along Kensington Drive.

Now, the library is going to be staying at that location longer than expected.

"I think it's a good centralized location, even where it is here," Menasha resident Jackie Buhl said. "It works pretty well where I work and live myself."

Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford says for more than a decade, the city looked at options for the downtown library.

It is being renovated because it needs more space.

"The current facility was no longer meeting the needs of the community," Woodford said.

The library is temporarily housed inside a former Best Buy.

But the library moved out before bids for more than $40 million project were in place.

"We needed to relocate the building to meet the construction timeline that had been laid out," Woodford said. "When you go out for construction bids, those bids are not guaranteed for an infinite amount of time, especially in an environment where there's a lot of volatility in the market."

The bids came in $14 million over the original budget.

So, this means the project is on hold until the bids are selected.

Woodford says the delay could take five or six months at a minimum.

"We're committed to delivering this project in a responsible way," Woodford said.

And while some are satisfied with the library sitting in a former Best Buy, others miss what the downtown library offered.

"Those aesthetics actually bring a lot of memories that kept us going back," Kimberly resident Chris Revello said.

Going forward, new bids for the project are expected in early 2023.

Woodford says the downtown library could reopen by mid-to-late 2024.