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Proposed Library Renovation Would Add 3,250 Square Feet

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Designers are closing in on a final concept design for Unalaska’s library renovation, and they’re looking to give readers a lot more room to maneuver.

This week, architect Brian Meissner presented a handful of redesign options to the community and the Unalaska City Council.

His goal is to address the 18-year-old library’s biggest drawback.

“You’re short on great places to read — and places for people to interact for studying or otherwise," said Meissner of ECI Alaska Architecture. "Very short for a library and a population of this size.”

The redesign front-runner would change that by adding 3,250 square feet to the building, largely through a southern expansion toward the senior center.

The space would increase by 35 percent, making way for a larger children’s section, teen area, and Alaskana meeting room.

Credit Courtesy ECI Hyer Inc.
Architect Brian Meissner has presented the community with a handful redesign options. The $4.5 million front-runner would increase the library’s space by 35 percent.

The $4.5 million proposal received an enthusiastic response from Unalaskans and the City Council. Mayor Frank Kelty said the island needs a bigger library as the community grows.

“I don’t want to have to come back in 10 years and [renovate] again," said Kelty. "I’d like to have something that would last for maybe 20 years.”

The plan does not include a coffee shop or movie theater, despite community support.

Meissner said the renovation would create a large gathering space that could be used for movie watches, but adding a coffee shop is hard without a committed vendor.

On top of that, Interim City Manager Nancy Peterson said she’s wary about designating a public space for business.

“I think you have to be very careful and conscious," said Peterson. "You don’t want to do something that’s going to directly compete with private industry.”

Meissner said he’ll finalize the preliminary designs in early 2018, so the city can start raising capital funding. Construction is slated for fiscal year 2020 or 2021.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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