Library district looks at financing facilities; Carbondale not on list
Carbondale will not be included in the first round of financing for new public library facilities in Garfield County, due to uncertainty about a preferred new library site and some questions on the part of town trustees on how best to help facilitate the move.
The Garfield County Public Library District Board of Directors is expected to decide at its regular monthly meeting tonight to move forward with issuing $12.5 million in certificates of participation (COPs).
The money will be used to fund a new $9 million library in Rifle, as well as a $2 million renovation and expansion to the existing New Castle Branch Library.
A $2 million expansion to the Silt library, as well as a $1.3 million expansion in Parachute, would be funded separately using existing reserve funds, library district Executive Director Amelia Shelley said.
The facilities financing plan is on the table for formal action at tonight’s library board meeting, starting at 6 p.m. at the New Castle library, 402 W. Main St.
That leaves financing for the proposed relocation and construction of a new 13,000 square-foot library in Carbondale – as well as a new 16,000-18,000 square-foot library in Glenwood Springs for which several sites are still being evaluated – for a later time.
The library district had considered issuing up to $16 million in COPs initially, with the idea that Carbondale may be ready to move forward.
But it became ever more apparent at a Tuesday night meeting between library officials and the Carbondale Board of Trustees that it’ll be a good three to five years before the town will see a new library.
Earlier this year, a site selection committee made up of citizens, library district and town officials, recommended against expanding the current Gordon Cooper Library on Fourth Street. That was due to the fact that the 13,750 square-foot site, which is owned by the town, is not considered adequate to build a single-level, 13,000 square-foot library, and accommodate the necessary parking.
A single-level library is more cost-effective to operate than two levels, Shelley said.
So, the recommendation is to build a new library on what’s now Roaring Fork School District Re-1 property three blocks away, at the corner of Sopris Avenue and Third Street, next to the Bridges Center.
The proposed building site, now occupied by some abandoned tennis courts, is exactly 13,000 square feet. However, the library would work a deal with the school district to use a portion of the adjacent Bridges parking lot for library needs.
The library district has asked the town to help facilitate construction of a new library construction in some way.
Among the options would be to sell the existing library site and put some of the proceeds toward the new library, a move that would require town voter approval. The building itself is technically owned by the library district as long as it’s used as a library, but would come under ownership of the town if the library abandons it.
Other options include:
• Sell the existing site and acquire the new site for the library district;
• Ask town voters to extend the existing 1.5 mill property tax now used for town infrastructure improvements, and put some of the funds toward the library;
• Ask voters for a separate dedicated sales or property tax;
• Use town reserve funds.
Still another option has to do with the larger school district property, which is being proposed for a residential development to accommodate affordable housing for teachers. The town could ask for the site to be dedicated to the library through the development review process.
With so many balls in the air, though, the town board at this time is unwilling to make any commitments.
Carbondale branch library manager Marilyn Murphy spoke to the ultimate need for a new library building, saying the current facility can’t accommodate the growing program needs. For instance, the summer reading series events have been held at town hall for the past several years.
“That negates the purpose of library programming, which is to introduce children to the library,” Murphy said. With the programs off site, people leave and go somewhere else instead of staying and checking out the library, she said.
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Imagine Glenwood and The City of Glenwood Springs is slated to host a virtual town hall at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11.