Dreams begin with library groundbreaking
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A new downtown Glenwood Springs Branch Library will only further one of Cailey Arensman’s dreams going back to when she was a student at Glenwood Springs High School and a regular user of her local library.
“As someone who worked to create a young adult space in our library, this is special for me,” said Arensman, who just completed her sophomore year at Grinnell College in Iowa, after Tuesday’s official library groundbreaking ceremony.
“I’m excited that such places have been included in the new library,” said Arensman, who remembers going to the library for regular story time starting at about age 5.
The new library being built at the southwest corner of Cooper Avenue and Eighth Street will feature a 379-square-foot young adult area. That’s in addition to 1,717 square feet of dedicated space for children and a 4,579-square-foot adult area.
“I’m closer to being an adult than a teenager now, so I probably won’t use that space as much,” Arensman said. “But it will be important for all the young people coming behind me to be able to enhance their literary realm.”
Arensman was one of about 50 people, ranging from elementary school-aged children to Glenwood Springs’ elder historians, who attended the groundbreaking.
Construction is now beginning on two major downtown construction projects. They include the two-story, 28,000-square-foot building to be shared by the library and Colorado Mountain College (CMC), and a two-level public parking structure funded and built by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the city of Glenwood Springs.
Together, they represent a $17 million investment by the four entities, which joined forces to ensure that the new library would remain downtown and to enhance the overall appeal of downtown Glenwood Springs.
The Glenwood Springs library will be the fifth of six new library facilities to be completed throughout Garfield County. County voters, in 2006, agreed to form the library district, separating the library system from the county government. Voters also approved a 20-year, 1 mill levy to fund new libraries in all six towns from Carbondale to Parachute.
New libraries opened in Rifle and Parachute in 2010, and in New Castle just last month. Construction is under way on a new Silt Branch Library and in Glenwood Springs, and will soon begin on a new Carbondale library.
The new Glenwood Springs library will replace the existing library at Ninth and Blake.
“When the library went looking for a new location in Glenwood Springs, we were in danger of having them move out of the downtown,” DDA board chairman Charlie Willman said. “We believe this is going to be a wonderful facility that will bring a new energy to the downtown area.”
Last year, the city government purchased the property at Eighth and Cooper from a group of private investors that also had owned the US Bank building on Grand Avenue. The city in turn sold the property to the library and CMC.
CMC, which purchased the bank building for its new central services offices, will benefit from a new 60-space underground parking area on the library site for college employees. It will also share the second floor of the building for future uses.
“We are incredibly excited to help create a vibrant downtown where people eat and shop and get to know each other as a community,” added DDA Executive Director Leslie Bethel.
Designing the building itself to fit the historic character of downtown Glenwood Springs was no easy task, architect Dennis Humphries said.
“What we didn’t realize was that, when you talk about Glenwood Springs you’re talking about paradise,” he said. “This is a state-of-the-art, historic symbol of the community.”
The day was also special for longtime Friend of the Library supporter and Glenwood Springs native Carleton Hubbard. His aunt, Erma Hubbard McGuirk, was the city’s first librarian when the library was located in the Glenwood Springs Elementary School building.
“The new library will give readers the ability to have more reading and listening materials, and places to gather,” Hubbard said. “The downtown will certainly benefit by having such a nice structure here.”
The new library is targeted for completion by late summer or early fall of next year. The new 150-space parking structure at Ninth and Cooper is expected to be completed and open to the public by early 2013.
Also speaking at Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony were Garfield County Public Library District Director Amelia Shelley, Library District board member Marilee Rippy, CMC President Stan Jensen, Glenwood Springs Mayor Matt Steckler and Garfield County Commissioner John Martin.
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