Arts center eyes old library for new digs
Supporters of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts are lobbying City Council to consider relocating the arts center to the former library building, after the organization was displaced from its historic Sixth Street digs by a flash flood last month.
Though it appears the damage caused to the one-time hydroelectric plant building is not as severe as first feared and repairs are possible, the library building at Ninth and Blake still might be a better long-term home, arts center advocates said at the July 21 council meeting.
“There are a lot of reasons why this would be a good solution,” attorney Charlie Willman, representing the Arts Council, said of the former library building that, like the hydroelectric building, is owned by the city.
Among them is that the downtown location would be more convenient for parking and picking up and dropping off students for the various youth programs, supporter Maureen Taufer pointed out.
“The timeline is also critical for the arts council, because they are in the process of planning for their fall classes,” Willman said.
Even if the arts center returns to the former location, it still may not be able to use the dance floor because of structural issues that came up in a building assessment that was done after the flood, he said.
Christina Brusig, Center for the Arts executive director, said a survey of arts center patrons and others generated 1,000 signatures supporting the new location.
Moving to the old library building, which was abandoned in 2013 when the new Glenwood Springs Library was completed at Eighth and Cooper, would also bring more people to the downtown business core, Willman said.
A brief but heavy rainstorm on June 12 resulted in a deluge of water that poured in under the front door of the arts center. A worker who happened to be there and her son were able to move a baby grand piano out of harm’s way, but the flood saturated the dance floor in the main gallery space.
Since then, the arts center has been holding classes and other programs at a variety of locations, including the Masonic Lodge on Colorado Avenue and at the Glenwood Community Center.
But the former library building has been on its radar for some time even before the flood.
Two years ago the city obtained voter permission to sell the library building, after Garfield County expressed interest in acquiring the property for a senior citizens center. However, a contract to sell the building to the county fell through this spring after concerns surfaced about needed repairs to that building.
City Manager Debra Figueroa said at last week’s council meeting that the repair work is ongoing, including roof repairs and replacement of ceiling tiles; however some asbestos mitigation may be required. The elevator also is now working again, she said.
Whether the arts center, or any other organization, could move into the building anytime soon remains to be seen, Figueroa said.
Several groups have had their eye on the former library since the city began soliciting proposals for its possible reuse three years ago.
Bill Kight, director of the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, said the museum also is “bulging at the seams” and has had flood issues of its own. But he told council that his organization is willing to waive its interest in the library building if the Center for the Arts could make use of it.
Since the contract to sell the building to Garfield County fell through, the county has not expressed further interest in acquiring it, though the need for a senior center in Glenwood Springs remains of high interest.
City Council said it would continue to weigh the options for the arts center and consider the repair and maintenance needs of both buildings before deciding where and when it can move in.
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Glenwood Springs Police Chief Joseph Deras lamented his department’s inability to maintain a constant presence downtown during a virtual public forum Monday night.