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During Upcoming Renovation, Unalaska's Library Will Move To Burma Road Chapel

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

While its 21-year-old building is under renovation, the Unalaska Public Library will move temporarily into the Burma Road Chapel.

The timeline for the move is still unclear. The city is working to finalize its contract with F&W Construction, the Anchorage-based contractor that won the bid.

"Things are still up in the air," said Roger Blakeley, director of the city's Parks, Culture, and Recreation Department.

"It's moving along quickly, but there are still papers that need to be filled in," he said. "We need bonding, insurance, and a schedule for construction. Those things need to take place, and I really won't have a clear picture or timeline until those things are completed."

Blakeley said construction on the $8.6 million project is likely to start in the spring. While the contract covers 360 days of work, he doesn't expect it'll take that long.

"At some point, though, I'm going to have to close the library," said Blakeley. "And I want to make sure that I have a place for us to get the most current reading materials, DVDs, and do the passport [processing.] There's just a lot of things we do at the library that the community really needs, and I want to make sure that's in place to make the transition easier."

Blakeley said the project will renovate 8,300 square feet of the building and expand it by around 3,500 square feet. That'll provide extra room for kids, teens, and collections, as well as add private study spaces, proctored test areas, and a community gathering room for lectures and movies.

Despite construction bids coming in more than $3 million over initial estimates, the City Council voted 5-to-1 this month to continue with the expansion, asking city officials to work with the contractor to identify potential savings. 

Now, the Department of Parks, Culture, and Recreation is required to give the Unalaska Visitors Bureau 30 days' notice to move out of the Burma Road Chapel and make room for the temporary library. 

Hope McKenney is a public radio news director, reporter, producer and host based in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
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