This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

2015 March Area Government, Library, and School Board meetings dates. Completed Meetings on Video when available.


To see a completed televised meeting click on the meeting link below in red. To read the minutes of a completenot televised meeting click on the link below in blue. A non highlighted meeting is one in which neither video or meeting minutes is not as yet,   available. Be patient when choosing a televised  meeting to watch. Due to size in hours ten to twenty seconds may be required.

Meetings By Date                                                                                                             
Baldwin Building  Committee
Baldwin Policy Committee
5:30 pm
Baldwin  Finance  Committee
City of Bloomfield Planning
Township  Planning Commission
Preservation Bloomfield  Directors
Township Design   Review Board
BHS Board of Education


     The public is invited to all listed and publicized meetings. There is no charge to attend. Public Comment, at specified times for specified lengths of time is at the discretion of the meeting Chairman. You are welcome, per the Michigan Open Meetings Act to bring recording devices such as a tape recorder, camera, or video camera, provided such devices do not interfere with the meeting. If you are unable to attend the meeting, the meeting secretary is required to make a copy of the minutes of the meeting available to you within eight business days of the meeting conducted. Most of the Boards listed below televise their meetings for later viewing on demand at home. A few also offer live viewing of the meeting on cable or by streaming. Consult the organization's web site for complete details.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Written Transcript of Township Supervisor Savoie Discussing Feb 6th meeting with DTE. For readers whose computers find video challenging.

At the February 9th Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meeting , approximately eight minutes were spent discussing the tree cutting the month prior on Kensington Road.  It occurred  in a portion of the program called Supervisor's Update. Township government is   different than City Government in that the supervisor is a  Township residence required, elected, full time, salaried, position that combines the duties of  Mayor and City Manager.

"DTE," Supervisor Savoie began.,"I met with DTE on Friday (February 6th). We had about A two hour meeting at Bloomfield Hills City Hall. Jay Cravens (City of Bloomfield Hills City Manager) was there. Michael McCready (State representative for both communities ) was there. The (DTE) representatives  were there. They (DTE) are going to change their policy on how they do things."

" I took numerous notes,on it "continues Savoie,"And I indicated to DTE that I am going to send them a draft of a process that our residents  can expect DTE to adhere to. One major thing they talked about and you have seen it in the newspaper as point of discussion was going underground  with the electrical utility."

Editor's note: this has been promoted by  Bloomfield Hills Commissioner Coakley  in the latest edition of  the Hills Highlight as a nominal cost solution and by City Manager Craven in other publications as  something residents could pay for on a monthly basis on their utility bill.

Savoie continues with, "The cost (of going underground is) so prohibitive per household that it doesn't make economic sense.
Give or take 20% just for the City of Bloomfield Hills you are looking at  $375 (million dollars). There are 2300 homes in  Bloomfield Hills  and if you  amortize it for thirty years....You can do the math. It just doesn't make economic sense.

Editors Note: Doing the Math. The annual budget for the City of Bloomfield Hills is  9 million dollars. The $375 amount suggested for buried lines is approximately more than forty annual budgets. That is why City Manager Cravens said the The City couldn't afford to pay for it . He suggested  Citizens  pay via a monthly fee on their utility bill. If the City could survive by paying it's expenses for the next four decades out of thin air, and the residents relieved of City taxes  paid only the tab of buried lines it would cost each household  a modest $78,000 a month for forty years.

"More importantly, Savoie added, (DTE) gave a report with plenty  of pictures that showed what the boring (for buried lines) does. Basically On the major roads where the lines are you have to put  a twenty foot swatch in order to get the trenching done so you lose all of  the growth that is there. 
"DTE has stopped the process of vegetation Management at this time. They (DTE)are going to meet with us (Bloomfield City and Township)to go over exactly where they intend to continue  DTE has indicated that they will meet with every single home owner. They will mark every single tree they intend to take out. If the home owner is adamantly opposed to it and some sort of agreement can't be reached,DTE will stop that particular property untill the end of the project."

Savoie added, "DTE still takes the position that have the right to do what they  want to do  in their prescribed easement. I (Supervisor Savoie) made the suggestion and hopefully DTE will follow them.  It is what we do in terms of our safety path program. Hubbel,Roth, and Clark (HRC) happens to be The City of Bloomfield Hills Engineering consultant firm as well as ours (the Township) and HRC will go out and mark all of the trees that need to be removed. They (HRC) (will) meet with the homeowners and bring any issue back to us (City Hall)that we need to deal with. The difference is that homeowners also have the right to address us at public meetings.That doesn't quite take place with  DTE.

"I called HRC," Savoie continued. "and told them what the conversation was and they told me if DTE contacts them they will let both myself and Jay Cravens from Bloomfield Hills know."

In regard to the draft approval,Savoie said,"Once it is written I will bring it back to the  Board (of Township Trustees) and at that particular time (we) will distribute it to the United Homeowners Association So they can put it on their website and if we chose to we can also put it on  our website.

At the February 10th Tuesday City of Bloomfield Hills City Commission meeting there was no mention of  the meeting with DTE  the previous Friday. Nor was there any mention of Supervisor 
Savoie's remarks,  or the resolution passed by the Birmingham City Commission the night before.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

For mad dogs. The complete Agenda Packets for Today's Planning Commission and City Commission meeting. Also quick access to the new Sign Ordinance in its entirety.

The links at the bottom of the page will take you  to the beginning of the  Agenda Package for both meetings. The first thing you will see when link connects is the rudimentary Agenda for the meeting.
 Scrolling down on the right hand side will allow to you to  see all the documents that concern today's meetings. 

The Agenda Packet for the City  Commission is 108 pages long which relatively short as Agenda Packet go, The five City Commissioners as well as City Staff who participate in the meeting also receive the Agenda packet. When all the  pages are copied for today's meeting over a over 1500 pages will be produced. What the reader and this publication get is the dog copy that is  posted on the City Website. By dog copy we mean the staff of the City Clerk's office is probably pretty dog tired when the monthly meeting agenda packets are finished. Besides who else beside mad dogs and Englishman would venture beyond page 100 of  an Agenda packet ?
To read  the proposed  revised   sign ordinance  in its entirety,   
Click here Sign ordinance.The ordinance  runs from page 52 to 90. Clicking  on the Sign ordinance link will also produce the complete agenda packet  for tonight's City Commission meeting.                                             
 In addition to the complete sign ordinance your reward for accessing the City Commission agenda package so will be  the following added bonus material.
  • The complete waste hauler contract as it now stands 
  • page 91  to 103.
  • The yet to be posted minutes of the January City commission meeting page 42.
And a behind the scenes look at various City Departments such as Public safety (Crime an other incident reports), Treasury (assets and liabilities) and Building(Vacant property report).

To access the agenda package for this afternoon's Planning Commission agenda package click here

So some pages  are crooked, blank, or go side ways instead of up and down or worse are upside down to begin with, your determination to get to the bottom of even the biggest agenda packet will be rewarded and perhaps even celebrated in song.  

Robbery bust and educating the community to reduce false alarms highlight January Public Safety Department activities.

City Commision meeting agenda February 10th 2015 with annotations and keywords quick finds.

Late Update ! Tonight's  City Commision meeting will begin at 6:30 pm with the first hour devoted to a  discussion of the 2015  Budget. Residents are welcome but  no study work books are available for residents and even the most  basic follow along guides like an overhead projector will not be utilized.

The regular meeting of the City Commission will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at City Hall 45 E. Long Lake Road Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304. Phone 248.644.1520, FAX 248.644.4813.City Commision Meeting will begin at 
1. Call to order and Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Consent Agenda A. Bills Payable for January 2015. B. Department Reports: a. Finance Director / Treasurer b. Public Safety c. DPW d. Building e. Engineering C. Minutes: a. City Commission Special and Regular Meeting held January 13, 2015.
D. Correspondence:  2014 - 2015 Goals  and  objectives  updated  by   City Manager  Jay Cravens to read : DTE will be meeting with Mayor Dul, Commissioner Coakley,  and Cravens in in early February  to discuss costs to bury electrical transmitiom  lines and the resumption of tree cutting to maintain electrical reliability.
Correspondence from Resident: DTE tree removal.
3. Recognition of Citizens in the audience.
Editors note:  Here any resident   may speak on any topic for three minutes or less except a for agenda items.  Consent Agenda items often passed  in bulk with little or no comment by the Commission are not considered “Agenda  items” that would preclude  Public comment. Therefore if one wishes to comment on the tree cutting on Kensington this would be an ideal opportunity. Early February is gone and it will be interesting here about the meeting with DTE if it happend.

 4. The commission will recognize the Department of Public Safety awards as presented by Chief Hendrickson.
 5. The commission will consider the request of the property owner at 38500 Woodward Avenue for a variance from the sign ordinance.
6. PUBLIC HEARING: The commission will conduct a public hearing on the proposed sign ordinance.
 7. The commission will discuss the 2015 Road Improvement Program bonds.
 8. The commission will consider approval of the contract with Rizzo Environmental Services.
Editor’s note: In the current edition of Hills Highlight Mr. Cravens informs the reader that City Commission will consider extending the Waste Hauling contract  approved at the   January  Commission Meeting for five years to eight years.  Prior to tonight’s meeting, Mr. Cravens, we believe, is the only voice  to an  immediate, before service has even started,  contract extension  for  Rizzo  waste hauling. .  Eight years is a long time. Go back eight years to 2007 and Commissioner Hardy the only current commissioner who goes back that far was Mayor and City Manager Cravens was just starting with City. Who will be around in 2023 ?  Who knows ?  In waste hauling a five year contract with  a three extension at the end for good work is standard. That what the communities of Rochester Hills  (Mr. Cravens home community) and Bloomfield Township have done. It will be interesting to see how the commission votes

9. The commission will consider a change to the City Clerk Administrative Assistant position.
10. The commission will hear City Manager comments.
11. The commission will discuss lead responsibilities.
12. The commission will consider other business.

Editor’s note: The last three items  which end every meeting are often ignored  by the lateness of the hour (10pm or so here,  but City of Birmingham  Commission meetings  with extensive public comments often run to midnight and the Birmingham Commission  meets twice a month.). Agenda  items 10, 11, and 12 are a very good indicator of coming attractions or disasters as the case may be.

Planning Commision Meeting Agenda February 10th 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Mechanics of reading the Hills Highlights, the Official Newsletter of the City of Bloomfield Hills.

The Bad : For reasons unknown The Hills Highlights does not  as a rule utilize page numbers. An exception occurs when  a story is carried over on another page.  

In that case the article you're reading will break with a "continued on page "4" or similar notation. Since there are no numbered  pages you will have  go to the cover page (which counts as page 1)  and manually flip the pages in a counter clockwise manner. Since both sides of the page are printed on, two counter clockwise flips are required to produce the mythical page four.If you prefer you may also count each page separately  until you come to four and presumably page four.Often but not always you are rewarded by repeat of the headline from the page you departed from and the word continued

 Therefore it is  rather difficult to reference a particular article on particular page to a party who is in not in your presence and does not have  a copy of the Hills Highlights in hand.

The Good : Staples (the current issue has two) are a recent and welcome addition. In the bad  old days of sans staples, if you dropped your Hills Highlights the loose pages would fly all over leaving you to gather them up and in the absence of page numbers ponder how the issue might be 

re-assembled.  If this happens to you while reading Hills Highlights on a public conveyance such as airplane, escalator or elevator or while dining at a public eating house it is  embarrassing  and an annoyance to others.

Despite such difficulties:  The Hills Highlights has a dedicated readership  who reads each edition as fast as it comes out  with a passion that precludes  
(as we have previously mentioned) 
awareness of one's surroundings
 The attraction is not in what is written but often in what  is not. It is hard to describe but it is a truism of any publication that is the official anything.  Nuance comes close but not exactly.There is an orthodoxy that is inherent in  the word "official" which produces a repetition, which overtime  is rather revealing and therefore interesting.

Last Friday, Hills Highlight #89  Winter 2015 was delivered to   the mail boxes of residents. If you still have yours hang on to it. It will be a collector's item.

Baldwin Library Power Point Presentation Presented at Birmingham's 2015 Long Range Planning Meeting.

Baldwin Public Library Building: 

A Positive Move Forward

Providing opportunities to learn, connect and discover.

Focus of Phase 1 – Adult Services
Present Adult Services 
Improvements Needed

Incorporate Library of the Future Concepts


Preliminary Timeline 2015-2016

Resolute about controlling scope & cost

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Baldwin Library at the Birmingham Long Range Planning Meeting.

 For the City of Birmingham, the annual Long Range Planning meeting is a very big deal. For that reason it is held on a Saturday and those who attend, from the big muckity mucks, to the casual visitor just killing time while the wife tries on shoes at nearby stores, are feted with varieties of chubby bagels and steaming coffee dispensed from a half dozen large cardboard boxes.

Following on the heels of the Golden Globes and the Oscar nominations, the atmosphere is festive as befitting the promise of new and renew.

 Long Range Planning  is not however an award show. Presentations are made,  polite questions are asked, but no opinions are voiced, or decisions rendered. 

 It is however generally acknowledged  that if you make the Agenda of the Long Range Planning meeting, you are a "winner" whose presentation has qualified for serious consideration in the Birmingham of 2015. As a result everybody wants on the agenda for that meeting. 

Sometimes the agenda runs to early afternoon. This year it ended at noon and for fourth straight year the Baldwin Library was a player. In 2012 before, the commission of Mayor Nakita, In 2013 before that of Mayor Dilgard and in 2015 before the Commission of Mayor Sherman, the Library  presented orally and visually with a slide presentation. In 2014 to facilitate an over crowded schedule running into the afternoon, on what was really just a procedural point, the library submitted to the commission of Mayor Scott by inclusion in the Agenda package.

Submissions for consideration to be on the Agenda of the Long Range Planning meeting begin with  Birmingham City Manager Joe Valentine. Below is the letter from Baldwin library director Doug  Koschik in regards to the library's submission.

The Baldwin Public Library Building: A Positive Move Forward

To:                         Joe Valentine
From:                    Doug Koschik
Subject:                 The Baldwin Public Library Building: A Positive Move Forward
Date:                     January 15, 2015

The purpose of my presentation at the long-range planning session on January 31, 2015, is to update the Birmingham City Commission on the process the Baldwin Public Library is undertaking to improve its building.  The Library’s efforts are currently centered on making major improvements to one section of the building—the Adult Services area.
At the January 2012 long-range planning session, I gave a presentation about the Library building, which last went through a comprehensive renovation and expansion in the early 1980s.  I noted that the Library’s recently adopted strategic plan had called for the development of a building plan, which the Library had accomplished after conducting a community-wide survey and statistically comparing Baldwin to other similar libraries.  I said that my presentation was the start of a conversation with the City of Birmingham about how to improve the Library building.  Note that this conversation is still going on today.
In my 2012 presentation I listed the following overall goals for the Library building:
-          Provide enough space for a library of high caliber to carry out its services
-          Arrange the space in a logical, usable manner
-          Make the building aesthetically pleasing
I also noted specific space needs:
-          More space for Youth Services
-          An increase in study and collaboration space and a decrease in space for physical collections
Among the improvements I listed as important were:
-          Improved handicapped accessibility
-          Enhanced lighting and acoustics
-          Better layout and “wayfinding” aids, such as signage
-          Improved layout of shelving to improve browsability
-          Service desks that are more up-to-date and functional
Finally, I laid out three options for moving forward:
1.       Continue the current practice of ongoing maintenance and modest, discrete improvements
2.       Undertake a comprehensive renovation and repurposing of space within the existing footprint
3.       Plan a full-scale building renovation and expansion, based on the needs of the community
The City Commission did not chose an option at that time, but established a Joint Building Committee and charged it with determining “which path is most desirable” based on benchmarking and other research. As a result, a Joint Library Building Committee was established.  It conducted further research, carried out focus groups and community forums, commissioned a study of the library of the future, and hired a consultant to develop a “library program” for a renovated and expanded building.  In 2013 the City Commission agreed to issue an RFP for architectural services to develop a plan that fulfilled the library program.  That plan ended up calling for the elimination of the Library’s 1960 and 1981 additions; the construction of a new building along Merrill Street, attached to the original 1927 building; and the renovation of the 1927 building.  The plan increased the building’s size by 16,600 square feet and would have cost $21.5 million.
That plan was presented to the voters in May 2014.  While it was a well-thought-out plan, one that fulfilled the objectives that the Library Board and City Commission had set in the previous two years, it still got defeated by a resounding margin—76% to 24%. 
Genesis of Current Project
Many reasons have been advanced for the “no” vote in May, but the Library Board believes the primary cause was the cost of the project.  A secondary cause was probably the size of the proposed expansion.
The extent of the defeat definitively rules out any prospect of reviving the idea of a complete building renovation and expansion in the foreseeable future.  It also guarantees that the 1981 Birkerts Addition will continue to be part of the Library building.  We are now left with two viable options: either to do nothing or to renovate existing space.  Doing nothing is even less desirable than it was three years ago since the building problems we had identified previously still remain, and in certain cases have become even more pronounced.  In addition, we would like to note that at least some opponents of the $21.5 million plan have come forward to say that the Library has actually made a good case for improving the building and that they would not object to a scaled-down project.
Therefore, the Library Board wishes to proceed with a modified version of the second option listed above: pursue a renovation and repurposing of the existing space within one section of the Library—Adult Services.  Other sections of the building will, we hope, be addressed at a later date.  Such a plan would reflect Andres Duany’s advice that we achieve the Library’s building ultimate goals through a series of small steps. 
What the Library is proposing at this time would, admittedly, not address some major issues, like the space needs of the Youth Room, the front entrance, and ADA-accessibility in certain parts of the building.  It would, however, update and improve the section of the Library that serves all adults, including seniors.  The project would concentrate on the main floor of the Birkerts Addition, an area where few physical improvements have occurred in over 30 years.  The Library intends to reallocate space within that area; establish small group study rooms and collaboration spaces; improve the shelving arrangement so that collections can be browsed more readily; improve the technological infrastructure; increase technological offerings; and make the whole area more inviting. 
It should be noted that already, in the past several months, the Library has taken steps, on its own, to improve its facility.  It has ordered a range of new shelving that will result in a more orderly and attractive Youth Room—an area that will otherwise not see a major upgrade for several years.  In order to improve its technology, the Library has signed contracts to replace and upgrade its switches and wireless access points, and also to purchase and install IP phones, which will bring its telephone system up to date with the City’s.  To improve its virtual presence, the Library has chosen a vendor to redesign Baldwin’s website.  And the Library is still exploring the possibility of a curbside book drop.
In summary, the plan currently being proposed by the Library would not increase overall building space, but would, in one major part of the facility (Adult Services), make it more functional.  This will, we hope and expect, help to establish the Library more firmly as a knowledge center and hub of activity in the City.  If the public receives these innovations positively, it will be more likely, in the future, to support additional projects involving the Youth Room and the front entrance, as described in the Library’s Vision for the Future.  Those potential future Library projects would be coordinated with other City projects.  And the overall cost will be far from the $21.5 million of the full renovation and expansion.
Vision for the Future of the Building
In preparation for its proposed new project, the Library Board has developed and approved a “Vision for the Future of the Baldwin Public Library Building.”  That document immediately follows this narrative.
The vision is summarized in its initial sentence: “The Baldwin Public Library wishes to undertake a building project that will provide it with a well-designed, forward-looking, technologically advanced, and visually exciting space to carry out innovative library services in the 21st century.”  The project consists of three phases over an undetermined number of years, beginning with the Birkerts Addition (this project), and then moving on to a renovation of the Youth Room, and finally a renovation of the public entrance, lobby, and Circulation Department.  Phases 2 and 3 could involve some external construction.
Scope of Work
The Library is in the process of developing an RFP for professional services to design and carry out an interior renovation of the Adult Services section of the Library.  The RFP asks for a fixed-fee proposal for a conceptual/schematic design, as well as a fee-structure quote for the actual design development, compilation of construction documents, bidding, and construction administration of the work. 
The RFP calls upon the design professional to provide floor plans and interior concepts, including lighting and furnishings; assessments of needed mechanical and electrical work; a project phasing plan and construction timeline; and an estimate of total project costs, including a line-by-line breakout of all fees, architectural costs, construction costs, furnishings, technology, and contingencies.
The work might be carried out in two more stages, based on availability of the funding.  The scope of work lists the following project objectives, but makes clear that they are starting points for discussion, not prescriptions.  The Library is eager to receive innovative, creative, and cost-effective solutions to designing a “library of the future” in a cost-effective manner.
Project Objectives:
Unless another other location is mentioned, all references below are to the main floor of the Birkerts Addition.
Freshen the Interior and Furnishings
1.       Coordinate the design and colors for all interior features, including walls and carpeting.
2.       Replace the carpet on the main floor of Birkerts, except in the Teen Area.
3.       Determine what furniture can be re-used and what should be replaced.

Redesign the Shelving
4.       Calculate the proper amount and layout of shelving for the physical collection over the next few years, based on input from Baldwin on the nature and the size of each part of the collection.
5.       The shelving should accommodate Baldwin's "neighborhoods" concept in order to promote browsing.
6.       Design a shelving configuration that is more logical and aesthetically pleasing than the current one.  Make the shelving work with, rather than against, the curved wall of the Birkerts Addition. 
7.       Integrate the oversize books into regular shelving.
8.       Use the existing shelving, but investigate physical changes.  See if the shelving height can be shortened since the top shelves on the current ranges are not used.
9.       Leave the current “pull-out” audiovisual shelving along the curved wall.
10.   As demand for physical items diminishes in future, need for shelving space will diminish also.  That will free up space for study and collaboration.  Design a space that is flexible, that will allow shelving space to be transformed into other kinds of uses in the future.

Improve the Lighting/Acoustics/Seating/Feeling of Openness
11.   Improve the lighting.
12.   Improve the acoustics in order to accommodate the need for both quiet space and active collaboration space.
13.   Re-configure the seating in some areas to foster informal discussion and collaboration.
14.   Investigate raising the ceiling and exposing what is currently above the ceiling tiles.
15.   Investigate opening up the old windows (perhaps convert some into passages) between the 1927 building and the Birkerts Addition.

Design a Comfortable Interior with Logical Layout
16.   Improve the layout of shelving, seating, study rooms, etc., in order to promote instinctive wayfinding.
17.   Install effective signage.
18.   Suggest print and electronic aids to guide people through the building.
19.   Make all newly designed areas ADA-compliant.
20.   Improve sight lines, so that staff can easily supervise activities.
21.   Improve the interior lobby and the stairs to the basement in order to enhance lighting, aesthetics, and wayfinding.

Improve the Use of Technology and Space Utilization
22.   Baldwin will provide the number of computers and other equipment needed.
23.   Investigate moving the computer lab from the basement to the main floor.  The lab would need to be able to be closed off from the surrounding area when classes are in session, but the computers in the lab must always remain visible to staff.  The lab computers will be available to the public when the space is not used as a lab.
24.   If the computer lab moves to main floor, consider moving the Adult Services office space from the Grand Hall to the space in the basement currently occupied by the lab.
25.   Install a suitable Adult Services desk, with appropriate technology.
26.   Review the IT/Tech Services office in the basement of Birkerts to see if greater efficiency can be achieved there.
27.   Install the technological infrastructure required by space design.
28.   Investigate the inclusion of maker/creator space elements.
29.   Baldwin will purchase any needed computers out of its operating budget, rather than out of the project budget.  On the other hand, technology equipment needed for small group study rooms and for maker/creator spaces will come from the project budget.

Install Suitable Seating and Small Group Study Rooms
30.   In space left over after accommodating the above, install an appropriate mixture of general seating and study space.  Put in as many small group study rooms as possible.
31.   Small group study rooms/collaboration spaces might go in any of the following areas:
a.       the northwest portion of the Birkerts curve
b.      across from the Circulation Desk
c.       in expanded closets at the north end of the Grand Hall
d.      in space currently occupied by the Gryphon Quiet Study Room and the Adult Services Office
32.   Equip the study rooms with state-of-the-art technology and presentation equipment.
33.   The Gryphon Quiet Study Room and the current Adult Services Office might remain as two rooms, or else might be turned into one room, becoming an alcove off of the Grand Hall. The two spaces might keep their current functions or else be changed to other functions. For example, they might be small group study rooms or else house a combination of seating and shelving (say, for large print or non-fiction literature).  Baldwin seeks advice on the best use of this space.

Design Flexible Spaces
34.   Since libraries and library use will continue to change, design spaces that are flexible and adaptable. For example, create open floor plans, use moveable walls where possible, and spread the technological infrastructure as far as possible throughout the building.

Leave Largely or Completely Unchanged the Following:
1.       The “Teen Scene” at the southeast corner of the main floor of the Birkerts Addition
2.       The Rotary Room in the basement of the Birkerts Addition
3.       The Grand Hall
4.       The Youth Room
5.       The Circulation Services area
6.       Outside entrances to the Library

Baldwin realizes that it might wish to address other building projects in the future—especially the Youth Room, the Circulation Services area, the lobby, and the Library’s entrances.  There are, however, no definite plans for such work at this time. Any work done in this currently proposed project must be carried out in such a way that possible future building modifications will not be significantly compromised.
The Library envisions issuing its RFP by the end of February, selecting a design professional by the end of April, presenting a preliminary plan to the public by the end of August, and having a final plan approved by the end of October.
Cost and Funding
The Library intends to pay, out of its own funds, the cost of hiring a design professional to develop a conceptual/schematic design for an interior renovation of the Adult Services section of the Library.
In the building plan presented at the 2012 long-range planning session, the cost of carrying out a renovation of the Birkerts Addition alone was estimated at $1.35 million.  Given that construction costs have risen in the past three years and the scope of work has slightly changed as well, the total cost of the proposed renovation project will probably fall in the $1.5 to $1.75 million range--somewhat higher than the 2012 estimate.  The Library intends to be resolute about controlling the scope of the project so that its costs are contained.

The options for funding this project include:
·         Spending down part of the Library’s fund balance and part of the Library Trust’s unrestricted funds
·         Increasing the Library’s millage rate temporarily above its current 1.1 mills, but within its present voter-approved limit
·         Obtaining a temporary loan from the City
The Library wishes to be practical.  An “ideal” project was turned down at the polls by a large margin.  Yet serious building needs remain.  Instead of addressing all of these needs at one time, the Library feels that it would be best to address them incrementally, in phases that cause relatively little financial pain and minimize disruption to patrons.  Baldwin would like to start with the Adult Services area, a part of the building that has seen few upgrades in over three decades.  Such a project involves no exterior construction and no increase in square footage.  But it would result in a rejuvenated space, better laid out, with more emphasis on 21st century technology, but still accommodating the traditional library services that Birmingham’s large senior population expects and deserves.  Such a project would help cement the Baldwin Library’s role as a civic center in downtown Birmingham and lay the groundwork for further work on the building at a suitable time in the future.
Adult Services section of the Baldwin Public Library

The main floor of the Birkerts Addition, pictured below, has not been renovated in over 30 years.

The section highlighted in yellow shows the section of the main floor of the Library that would be the focus of the proposed project.

The Baldwin Public Library wishes to undertake a building project that will provide it with a well-designed, forward-looking, technologically advanced, and visually exciting space to carry out innovative library services in the 21st century.
History and Future
In early 2014, the Baldwin Public Library and the City of Birmingham proposed a comprehensive renovation and expansion of the Library building, a proposal that was rejected at the polls.  Now, the Baldwin Library is proposing to continue to live, for the most part, within the footprint of its current physical structure.  Since Baldwin will continue to use that structure, Baldwin needs to update it so that it can better accommodate current and future library services.  In general, the Library wishes to play to the building’s strengths, centering traditional, quiet, reflective activities in the Tudor arts and crafts structure designed by Marcus Burrowes in 1927, and using the modernist Gunnar Birkerts Addition, designed in 1981, to house active and collaborative activities.
We see the work proceeding in three phases:
·         Phase 1: A renovation of the Adult Services section of the Library, concentrating on the main floor of the Birkerts Addition, but including some modifications to the 1927 building.  This phase will involve no external construction.  We will reallocate space; improve the layout of shelving and seating; create activity and collaboration hubs; establish small group study rooms; and promote technological access to information.
·         Phase 2: A renovation of the Youth Room, which might involve external construction.
·         Phase 3: A renovation of the public entrance, lobby, and Circulation Department, which might involve external construction.
We hope to complete Phase 1 within two to three years.  Then we will consider the future of Phases 2 and 3.
Vision of the public library over the next five years
The Baldwin Library has always attempted to be in the forefront of new library services.  Through a series of focus groups, community forums, community surveys, library benchmark studies, and research studies of the professional literature, Baldwin has identified many community needs and wants and has envisioned what the library of the future will be like.  Among the documents that Baldwin has examined is the Aspen Institute report Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries, which is a distillation of current thinking about the library of the future:
Public libraries need to align their services, as well as their buildings, to the goals of their communities. In Baldwin’s case, this means serving a well-educated, fairly affluent, technologically savvy clientele, demographically somewhat older than the average American community. Baldwin strives not only to provide the services its citizens want, but also to enhance their user experience, both in the library building and online.
Baldwin’s vision aligns with two goals established in the Library’s 2010 strategic plan:
·         Focus on fresh, dynamic services and programs that meet Library users’ changing needs.
·         Adapt the existing facility for more flexible use and employ technology more effectively in order to improve internal operating efficiency and better serve Library patrons.
It also aligns with three goals set by the Birmingham City Commission in 2010:
  • Be innovative and responsive in how services are provided to the community.
  • Support the vitality of both the residential and business communities.
  • Continue to be proactive with infrastructure maintenance programs and reinvestment in cost-effective improvements to roads, sewers, water mains, and public facilities.
As daily experience shows us clearly, public libraries are no longer primarily storehouses of physical artifacts, but rather:
·         Gateways to information in all formats
·         Laboratories—places to experiment and innovate
·         Learning commons—spaces for collaboration and sharing
As such, public library buildings should include zones that encourage different types of learning.  Among these zones are:
·         Quiet, reflective spaces
·         Active areas, conducive to collaboration and sharing
·         Small group meeting and study rooms, with presentation capabilities
·         Social spaces—such as a commons, an exhibit space, and a cafĂ©
·         “Touch points,” where users come into direct contact with library services—for example, a staff service desk or a touch screen with library event and location information
The Aspen Institute report envisions a number of roles for the library of the future. Public libraries must strive to encourage entrepreneurial learners, the creators of knowledge. The buildings in which libraries are housed need to foster an environment that promotes learning and the access of information, no matter how the information is stored.  Staff is responsible for curating the Library’s collections and for being prepared to guide, as needed, the learning experience, thereby helping the public achieve useful and productive outcomes.
The Baldwin Library requires a blended design, one that accommodates traditional stacks and quiet spaces, as well as vibrant collaboration spaces. The building must be sufficiently flexible to accommodate the changes that will inevitably come over the years. In this rapidly changing world, it is, in fact, impossible to know for sure what will happen more than five years out, but Baldwin needs to make sure that it can at least accommodate how people are using technology at the current time and how we believe they will use it in the near future.
Translating that vision into Baldwin’s physical structure
To achieve the goals mentioned above, Baldwin wishes to focus its proposed building improvements, throughout all phases of the project, in the following categories. While Baldwin is providing a list of specific objectives, that list should not be considered prescriptive.  Baldwin is eager to entertain any and all innovative and creative solutions to the challenge of designing a “library of the future” in a cost-effective manner. Baldwin is also eager to see environmentally friendly materials and methods used in any building project.
·         Freshen the interior (new carpeting, updated furniture, coordinated color and design).
·         Redesign the shelving (if possible, lower the height of existing shelving; determine the correct size of the physical collection; change the configuration of the shelving to allow easier browsing).
·         Improve lighting, acoustics, seating, and the feeling of openness in order to foster discussion and collaboration.
·         Design an interior where users feel comfortable and can easily find their way around (improve the layout; install effective signage; use print and electronic aids to guide people; make all newly designed areas ADA-accessible).
·         Expand and update technology (determine the correct number of public computers; move the computer lab to a more visible and usable area; install a suitable Adult Services Desk; offer up-to-date technology; consider a digital creation space).
·         Install as many small group study/collaboration rooms as possible, equipped with appropriate technology and presentation equipment.
·         Design flexible spaces since libraries and library use will inevitably continue to change.
In Phase 1, specifically, Baldwin intends to:
·         Focus primarily on the main floor of the Birkerts Addition.
·         Ensure that any work done in Phase 1 will be consistent with future building plans.
·         Leave largely intact those areas of the Adult Services section which have been recently renovated and work well, such as the Teen Area and the Rotary Room.  The Grand Hall—a pleasant and functional space—but one that has gone largely untouched for 12 years, will probably require some minor modifications.

Vision Approved by Library Board 12/15/2014