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Expansion to open new chapter for library

Parachute Branch Library is finally getting the expansion and renovation it needs.

An invitation for bids went out to general contractors Friday for the construction project, which will double the existing building’s square footage from 2,000 to 4,000 square feet.

Following the bid submission process, which runs through Feb. 6, library administrators and Chuck Brenner of C.F. Brenner Architecture Inc., in Glenwood Springs, will have 120 days to determine which company will construct the project.



Jacilyn Spuhler, director of the Garfield County Public Library System, said the rest of the project depends on how well financing comes together.

“All Colorado libraries took an enormous hit as a result of Gov. Owens’ state budget cuts last year,” she said.



Budget estimates put the project’s total cost at $427,000. Out of that, $364,000 goes into construction costs ” $100,000 of which is earmarked for renovating the original library space.

Spuhler said she’s already secured $227,000 through library funding, but is still waiting to hear whether a grant application she submitted in November amounting to $200,000 to the Department of Local Affairs will be awarded.

Sue Schneider of DOLA said Monday that the library’s grant is still in the application process. She said it generally takes four months for DOLA to make a final decision regarding grants, which means Spuhler won’t know about the outcome of the grant until early April.

“I’m a little concerned about it, but that’s where we happen to be,” said Spuhler.

DOLA has a grant program specifically for communities that have been impacted by the energy and mineral industry.

“The need for library services by the personnel and families of energy- and mineral-related industries was the impetus for building the Parachute Branch Library 20 years ago,” Spuhler said. “With the resurgence of these industries in the last five years, the stress on services offered due to increasing population growth has made a building expansion a necessity.”

Spuhler said with the growing populations in Parachute and Battlement Mesa, the library has needed to be renovated and expanded for a few years. She said 1,300 people live in Parachute and another 3,500 live in nearby Battlement Mesa ” all share the existing library.

“If there’s a Story Time going on, and the copy machine is being used, you’ve got an issue,” said Spuhler of the library’s cramped quarters.

Spuhler said administrators are aware that all of Garfield County’s libraries need renovations.

“You name it, and we’ve outgrown it,” she said of the county libraries located in Parachute, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, New Castle, Rifle and Silt.

Of all the libraries, however, Spuhler said Parachute’s needs were the greatest.

“The population growth in Parachute and Battlement Mesa has more than doubled since the original library building was completed in 1982. And, we’ve had a 400 percent increase in children’s summer reading programs in the past four years,” she said.

She added that the library has also seen a 97 percent increase in reference questions since 1999. In 2002 alone, the library fielded 1,664 questions.

The Parachute Library, at 244 Grand Valley Way in Parachute next to Parachute Town Hall, has an inventory of 10,000 adult books and 4,000 children’s books. In contrast, in its 9,000-square-foot building, the Glenwood Springs Library has 20,000 adult and 9,000 children’s books in its inventory.

Brenner drew the plans for the Parachute expansion, which will be constructed on property already owned by the library.

“We’re fortunate in that we’re not looking to purchase land and construct an entirely new building,” Spuhler said.

Spuhler is hopeful that financing can be secured and construction can begin in the late spring and summer. She estimates the building will take five months to remodel and expand.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

cclick@postindependent.com


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