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Council Endorses Larger Expansion For Unalaska's Library

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Unalaska's public library expansion is going to be even larger than originally planned.

The City Council expressed unanimous support Tuesday for a design that adds about 1,200 square feet and $600-800,000 to the renovation, bringing its total price tag to about $5.2 million.

Architect Brian Meissner — of ECI Hyer Inc. — said the extra money will allow contractors to expand the entire library to the north, not just the northwest section. That will create room for a big community events space in the northeast corner.

"We'll have this large meeting room, which can accommodate 80 people comfortably for a presentation," he said. "You could do a workshop with 50 and tables. It's a very functional room."

Councilors endorsed the updated design after learning that reservations for the library's existing conference room increased by 25 percent between 2017 and 2018.

"It's pretty impressive that the current meeting room had 337 uses in the year," said Vice Mayor Dennis Robinson. "And it's an indication that we probably need to have more meeting space."

Councilor James Fitch agreed. "But I do have one question," he said. "Are you going to increase the parking lot?"

Meissner said Unalaskans have reported very few concerns about the library's 32-car lot during the design process, but his firm is studying the issue.

"There were lots of comments saying, 'Hey, I've never seen the parking lot full.' That said, the big meeting room is going to draw more cars, so we need to be able to park those cars in a way that doesn't impact the senior center," he said. 

Meissner said architects are on schedule to finish the final design by October. The city's plan is to put the renovation out to bid next winter so construction can start next spring.

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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