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Park board hears temporary library relocation update

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A parks department official said Tuesday that Keene Memorial Library won’t move into its temporary location at Fremont City Auditorium until mid-August or the beginning of September.

So the auditorium now will be available for events before that time.

Initially, plans were to relocate library staff and materials to the newly remodeled auditorium in July as the library undergoes an expansion.

Parks and recreation staff stopped taking reservations for the newly remodeled city auditorium after June 22. Those making reservations after that time were given an option of moving their events to Christensen Field.

Earlier this week, Fremont Parks and Recreation Department Director Nick Hansen thought the library might not move into the auditorium until mid-September or later.

He shared those dates with members of the parks and recreation department’s advisory board during their Monday night meeting.

But Tuesday, Hansen said the correct dates are mid-August or beginning of September.

Hansen said parks and recreation department staff will reach out to people who’d had to relocate their wedding receptions and see if they would want to move their events back to the city auditorium.

“We can give them that opportunity,” Hansen said. “Maybe they’ll take it. Maybe they’ve already sent out invitations, but we’ll reach out to them by the end of the week.”

Hansen said a notice also will be sent to the public to let them know the auditorium facilities will be open until mid-August or the beginning of September.

During Monday’s meeting, Nate Schwanke, recreation superintendent, said families also may want to schedule quinceañeras in the auditorium. A quinceañera is the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday widely observed throughout Latin America.

Hansen said the library is still looking for other temporary relocation options.

“If anybody else has heard of any options to go to, they’re more than willing to take any advice or look into it,” Hansen said.

Connie Giese, parks board vice chairman, asked when the library would plan to be out of the auditorium.

Hansen said the estimated construction time is 1 to 1 ½ years.

The library is raising funds for a $9.4 million project that would add technology-equipped meeting rooms, separate adult, teen and kid areas and space for entertainment and educational events.

Other plans include updating existing elevators and infrastructure to make the building easily accessible.

Former Fremont City Administrator Brian Newton said moving the library to the auditorium during the library’s renovation and expansion project would save an estimated $500,000 in the construction contract.

However, parks board members have stressed concern about not being able to rent out the city auditorium during the time it houses the library.

It took 1 ½ years to complete the $3.87 million renovation of the historic city auditorium, which included a newly refurbished main area with technology, a new roof, new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, main floor restrooms with handicap accessibility and many other features.

A grand reopening of the auditorium took place in April 2021 with plans to rent the facility for a host of events and activities.

During a joint meeting of the two boards in November, Laura England-Biggs, library director, provided a list of temporary library relocation options, all of which proved unfeasible or unavailable.

The list of researched options included Fremont Public Schools Lenihan Gym, Fremont Mall and Nebraska National Guard Armory.

Parks board members have learned the library would use the city auditorium’s main banquet hall for a circulation area. One meeting room would be used for a computer lab and another for offices.

Hansen said if the library is able to move out of the east and west meeting rooms earlier, those rooms then can be rented out. He said the library wants to get back into its facility as soon as possible.

Unexpected compliance work for the library is delaying some of its progress. The city council was expected to vote Tuesday on measures that can lead to a construction contract which will follow the Political Subdivision Construction Alternatives Act.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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