State College of Florida requests $17.6M for new library

eearl@bradenton.comSeptember 19, 2013 

MANATEE -- The State College of Florida is asking legislators for $17.6 million in public education capital outlay to build a new library on its Bradenton campus.

The State College of Florida Board of Trustees in June unanimously approved sending the five-year capital improvement proposal to the state, which included requests for a new library and a new science building on the Bradenton campus and student union improvements at the Venice campus.

The state PECO funds -- used for renovations, repairs and campus improvement projects -- have dwindled in recent years as Florida's economy and tax base eroded. Last year, the state set aside $73.5 million in PECO funds for all projects.

In 2013-14, that amount is expected to rise to $294 million, according to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

The new library has been a public education capital outlay fund priority for several years, said Kathy Walker, spokeswoman for the State College of Florida.

The new library is on the state's consideration list, and the Legislature is expected to vote on funding requests at a legislative session beginning March 4.

"Our legislators remain supportive and interested in seeing this important project completed for our students," Walker told the Bradenton Herald. "We are hoping for success in 2014."

Facilities management director Chris Wellman said the current library, built in 1977, does not have enough computer technology in its design and has poor indoor air quality.

Wellman said Wednesday the board of trustees has not yet approved contracts for an architect or an engineer for construction of the library.

"We are not there yet. It's a bit early for that now," Wellman said.

Wellman has said the new library will provide students with computer access, offices and independent and group study rooms.

The design stage for the library will come after SCF knows whether it is getting funding and after the board of trustees agrees on an architectural firm, Walker said.

The college will make a final decision on what to do with the current Sara Scott Harllee Library building once plans are in place for a new library.

The project will be completed "as soon as practical," Walker said. She hopes that means securing funding in 2014.

"With the library and learning center as our top PECO priority since 2007, ideally it will be completed as soon as practical, but it's premature to set a timeline," Walker said.

"It has to be funded, approved and designed. The design will inform the timeline."

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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