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New Lindsay library ready to be checked out

The city of Lindsay is cutting costs on municipal construction projects -- such as the new library that opens Friday -- by using city workers instead of hiring contractors.

The $1.15 million library is one of three projects in which the city is saving money by hiring local residents with masonry, painting, sheetrocking and other skills for a city building crew, said Kindon Meik, Lindsay's assistant city manager.

"It's allowed us to do a lot more as a smaller city than we'd otherwise be able to do," he said.

About three years ago, officials formed a city construction crew in anticipation of projects, including the McDermont Field House and Sports Center, a 172,000-square-foot indoor complex, and a wellness center.

The city hires contractors to erect steel structures for its new buildings but uses city workers to finish most of the remaining work, Meik said.

City officials estimated it would have cost more than $2 million to hire contractors to build the new library -- double the cost of using city workers.

The city has two staff members who have general contractor's licenses. The city's construction crew has about 15 workers, some of whom are full-time temporary employees, Meik said.

Using the construction crew was "a way to make it happen with our limited resources," said Pamela Kimball, Lindsay's mayor pro tem.

The new 6,733-square-foot building will replace the 2,830-square-foot library that was built in 1934. Both are in downtown Lindsay.

About $750,000 for the library's construction came from Tulare County's capital-projects fund. The rest came from city redevelopment funds and a USDA loan.

The city will own the library; Tulare County will lease it and pay for staff and materials.

The partnership is "an example of how government agencies can work together to provide better services for our residents," said Allen Ishida, a Tulare County supervisor who represents the Lindsay area.

The new library will have seven public computers with Internet access; the current library has three, and sometimes there are long waits, said Dan Short, librarian assistant.

In addition to having space to store more books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and other materials, the library will provide a meeting room, separate areas for children, young adults and adults and more storytime space for children, Short said.

Lindsay residents are excited about the new library's opening, Kimball said.

The McDermont Field House, a former fruit packinghouse that officially opened in April, is a "hybrid" project with a combination of work done by the city crew and contractors, Meik said. New attractions will open in December and after the first of the year.

Construction of a planned wellness center for the community, which will include a swimming pool, a fitness center and classrooms, is scheduled to begin early next year. The city's construction employees also will work on that project, Meik said.

"Our hope is to keep using them as long as there is sufficient work," he said.