Glenwood Rec now has its eye on old library building
Recreation programs that have outgrown the Glenwood Springs Community Center, and some of the city’s new arts programming, could find a home at the long-idled former downtown library building.
After a deal fell through last month to sell the city-owned former library building at the northwest corner of Blake Avenue and Ninth Street to a private party, Glenwood Recreation Director Brian Smith and some of his staff went over to take a look at the space.
“Everyone was like, ‘why haven’t we been using this?,’” Smith informed City Council during a Thursday work session to present his ideas for utilizing the roughly 7,000-square-foot, two-level building that used to house the Glenwood Branch Library.
Absent a full-blown feasibility study and cost analysis, there are some immediate potential uses for the facility that could stave off what would otherwise need to be an expensive building addition at the Community Center.
“It would likely cost three times as much to add on to that building as the city could recoup from the sale of the old library,” Smith said.
An investment of around $150,000 for some basic program-specific upgrades and aesthetic features at the library building would make it “program ready,” he said.
Unlike the recreation center, which requires a large support staff for the physical activity areas, “a building like this is really what you would consider a traditional community center type of space,” Smith said of the downtown building.
Space rental and fees for the specific programs that could be offered there should also go a long way toward cost recovery, he said.
Among those programs could be some of the Silver Sneaker senior classes that now take place at the Community Center. The former library has been eyed as a possible senior center since the new Glenwood Library opened in 2013.
“It’s very accessible for the community to use for all sorts of needs,” Smith said.
Because of its location, and the availability of both on site and nearby public parking, it also may better suit some of the arts programming that the city is taking over from the former Glenwood Center for the Arts. Smith said he could easily make use of both the Center for the Arts building on Sixth Street, which also is owned by the city, and the library building.
With both a main floor and downstairs level, the library building is also more flexible to give separation to different types of uses, he said.
The city had been under contract to sell the library building for $1 million to former city council member and long-time YouthZone supporter Ted Edmonds. However, Edmonds said the cost to upgrade the building for what would have been the new offices and meeting/program space for YouthZone was too prohibitive.
YouthZone for years has been located in its own building at the corner of School and Eighth Street. It is still trying to secure a long-term location once the city completes a land swap with the Roaring Fork School District to take ownership of that location.
The property is part of the city’s confluence area redevelopment plan and is being eyed for possible residential development.
City Councilor Shelley Kaup asked if the library building could be split into condominium units and sold separately to YouthZone or other organizations.
Smith indicated that wouldn’t be desirable, due to the need to have separate access for independently owned units, and “territorial” issues that can arise with those types of arrangements.
Councilor Todd Leahy suggested that, by moving some recreation programs to the old library, it could free up space at the Community Center to begin to implement suggestions from a recent analysis and master plan for that facility done by outside consultant GreenPlay. He asked for more information on how that might be accomplished if City Council OK’s use of the library for recreation programs.
City Council intends to take up the discussion more formally and to make a decision about the future of the library building at its Jan. 18 meeting.
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The Glenwood Springs City Council voted to extend the existing face covering mandate for indoor public-facing spaces within city limits during Thursday night’s meeting.