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Ashton: Bids coming in over budget only a hiccup

Everyone wants to get the most bang for the buck, and the Downers Grove Public Library is no exception.

For a taxpayer-supported, public-serving organization, it’s our duty. We are working with our architects, construction managers, Library Board and members of the community to make sure that we get our money’s worth as we renovate our building. This is a challenging task.

On Nov. 22, we opened formal bids from about 40 contractors. They were competing for contracts in a dozen trades (carpentry, plumbing, electrical, painting, to name a few). 

To our dismay, the proposals from the lowest bidders in each trade added up to $433,000 more than our budget. 

We didn’t waste any time wringing our hands. Everybody got busy.

Our construction managers communicated with the lowest bidders, confirming that the bidders had correctly understood the project drawings and specifications.

Our architects examined materials and finishes and other design elements, looking for cost savings.

The staff revisited the plans for furnishings, equipment, and office arrangements.

The Library Board considered all the identified changes, making sure that we did not lose sight of the project’s original goals.

We have made a great deal of progress. At the Library Board meeting on Dec. 11, our design and construction team presented preliminary savings totaling a little over $360,000. 

We may not build quite as many small study and conference rooms as originally planned. Some new furniture purchases may be postponed. But entrances will still be welcoming, refurbished restrooms will still be shiny, staff members will still be visible and active, collections will still be well-arranged, and ample computer resources will still be available.  

There is more work to do. Before the start of construction early next year, the project team will collaborate with the trade contractors to identify about $70,000 in additional cost reductions. We will find those reductions in ways that will insure that the Downers Grove Public Library’s building and its contents remain an attractive destination for the community.

Soon you’ll see the signs: Pardon Our Dust!

Keep in touch with our progress at and

Rick Ashton is the executive director of the Downers Grove Public Library.

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