After considerable debate, the Carbondale Board of Trustees voted 5-1 to move forward with the proposal from the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities and Dance Initiative for the old Gordon Cooper Branch Library Tuesday night.
Frosty Merriott, who cast the dissenting vote, expressed discontent with a process that resulted in several important local institutions vying for the vote.
“We’ve managed to divide the community twice,” he observed, referencing the previous round of proposals in which the selected plan ultimately backed out.
As per the board’s request, CCAH met with the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce prior to the meeting to discuss whether it would be possible to include the Chamber in the proposal.
“It was a good discussion, but at the end the of the day we found we all have our needs and our wants, and they will not allow for collaboration,” said Chamber Director Andrea Stewart.
The existing building would already be fully utilized between Dance Initiative and CCAH, architect Dana Ellis explained.
Pam Zentmeyer, disinclined to give up on collaboration, proposed a rent-free period to allow for the construction of additional space to house all three organizations. Other members of the board declined to force the issue, and the ultimate motion put forth by Allyn Harvey does not require further consideration for the Chamber.
Although James Breasted reported that he has submitted his proposal for a hostel to Aspen as well, he seemed chagrined to witness his proposal take a back seat. “The market takes care of the middle and the high end, so it’s the duty of the local governments that the low end and entry level is economically possible,” he asserted.
Alexander Hobbs, who abstained to the vote due to his involvement in a proposal for a Pay it Forward café, was more laid back in his statement.
“If you happen to vote on ours, it will be very good for Carbondale,” he said. “If you don’t, we will not be hurt.”
The town is likely to prioritize further negotiations and lease drafting for the project in an effort to bring life to a building that has been vacant for nearly a year. The board expressed a desire to set a lease duration that is long enough to justify the expense of renovations but short enough to allow for ongoing flexibility.