The expansion of the Payson Public Library’s meeting room will more than double the capacity of the space.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the 2,000-square-foot addition is at 3:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6. Town officials and Library Friends of Payson members, who are funding the construction of the new addition, and Emily Linkey, library director, will be in attendance.

The Friends has built the nest egg for the project since 2001. The foundation of the nest egg was from funds left over after the group had paid for chairs, tables, computers, shelving, etc., inside the then-newly constructed library in Rumsey Park. The money was raised over several years and what remained from these purchases was invested in the stock market and in the years since 2001, that money has grown considerably. The group designated the money for a building fund.

In April 2018, the LFOP was notified that it had been chosen as a beneficiary of Arlene Kowalski’s estate. That bequest was for $100,000 in cash, with additional funds coming from the sale of Kowalski’s properties. The LFOP board put the donations from the Kowalski estate in the building fund, along with the funds that had been earning dividends and interest all along.

The library expansion of the meeting room will make it possible to accommodate between 150 and 200 people at one time. The current meeting room has a capacity of about 80 — standing up — and about 70 seated.

The concept for the addition was to add approximately 2,000 square feet to the existing meeting room, with the option of having a divider, instead of a fixed wall, which could be used between the existing meeting room and the new meeting room, thus offering more usage with the space. There is already a divider in the existing meeting room, and that can divide the space into two smaller meeting rooms. With this idea in mind, the library could have the option of three meeting rooms, two meeting rooms, or one large meeting room, as needed.

The LFOP board, in December 2018, contacted Lawrence Enyart, with LEA Architects in Phoenix, and asked him to develop a proposal for the new meeting room. His proposal was well-liked by everyone, however, his costs for the project greatly exceeded the funds, so the group continued to look for someone who could provide the addition it was looking for in the price range in the budget.

The search took the LFOP to Shannon Long, Long Design Associates, in Payson. In April 2019, Long met with the LFOP Steering Committee to discuss the project. He offered a proposal to build the needed square footage and do it within the LFOP budget. Since he worked locally, he would be available to be on site as needed, meet with the town building and zoning department more readily, and the project could be completed more quickly.

The LFOP hoped to have the groundbreaking this summer, but there were some design and permitting delays that pushed the event to December.

The town waived all fees and permitting costs associated with the project.

Long and general contractor Tyler Goodman, with 1st Priority Builders, will see the project to completion.

Once construction begins, the existing meeting room will be closed off. Those groups who have reserved the library meeting room have been advised that the meeting room will not be available during the construction period.

Construction of the new addition will not impact usage of the library, other than restricting use of the meeting room.

The Payson Public Library meeting room is available to local clubs, not-for-profit groups, businesses and government entities for meetings, workshops, and seminars. The meeting room may not be used for private parties or events.

Nonprofit groups with 501(c)(3) paperwork or any government agency may use the meeting room free, so long as the meeting held is free and open to the public.

For classes or seminars where fees are charged for attendance or for any business or for-profit group, a charge of $100 for up to four hours meeting room of use, and $25 for each additional hour.

For more information about the Payson Public Library meeting room, go to www.paysonaz.gov/Departments/Library/LibraryHome or contact the library by calling 928-474-9260.

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