CARBONDALE — The town’s Board of Trustees is expected to decide tonight which of three proposals will end up in the old Gordon Cooper Library building, which reverts to municipal ownership later this year.
The three proposals, submitted in March, include:
• A museum devoted to showcasing, but not selling, the works of internationally acclaimed sculptor James Surls.
• A combination preschool and gathering center called the Family Enrichment Center.
• A facility to be called the Carbondale Performing Arts Center, which would offer dance and instructional space for those interested in the performing arts.
To date, both in terms of letters to the town and public testimony at a trustees meeting, the majority of residents appear to favor either the Surls museum or the Family Enrichment Center.
The trustees, however, have set out a list of criteria for ranking the three proposals, which include consideration of the economic benefit to the town and to the vitality of the downtown area and the ability of any of the proposals to succeed without town support.
At the public hearing about the proposals, residents wondered about the economic return to the town of turning the library over to the Surls museum proposal, which hinges on a rent of $1 per year to the town.
But, as supporters of the Surls museum pointed out, backers of the museum plan to raise perhaps $800,000 or more to refit the library space to meet the museum’s needs, and that is to include construction of an “addition” that will not be physically attached to the library structure but would roughly double the square footage of available indoor space.
And, the museum backers point out, should the museum discontinue operations for any reason, the town would inherit the improvements.
The Family Enrichment Center, its supporters have pointed out, would pay the town $3,000 per month in rent for the library structure.
In addition, its backers say, the center would be a lively addition to the center of town and would provide a gathering spot for adults as well as the children attending the preschool.
The dance center, according to proponent Peter Gilbert, would provide a specially built dance floor unavailable elsewhere in town and would give dance enthusiasts a centralized venue to learning, practicing and performing their craft.
Sources with inside knowledge of the review process concerning the library space, speaking anonymously, have said they believe there are three solid votes out of the seven members of the Board of Trustees in favor of the Surls museum.
Mayor Stacey Bernot, when asked if she expects the board to make a decision tonight, responded, “I would think so because we need to get moving on what we’ll need to do” once a preferred alternative is chosen.
She pointed out that, once the choice is made, the town staff must then negotiate a detailed contract and lease for the building, and the chosen organization must go through a land-use review process including rezoning of the property.
Also on tonight’s agenda are:
• A continued public hearing on the Holgate easement vacation and lot-line adjustment, concerning a proposal to build a new facility for the Roaring Fork Family Medicine clinic on Highway 133.
• Discussion of a request to be sent to Helen Hankins, state director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, asking her to review a recent decision by the Colorado River Valley Field Office in Silt that granted suspension of the expiration countdown concerning oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide area.
The meeting will be held at Town Hall, 511 Colorado Ave., starting at 6 p.m.