Editorial: Old library too much of an asset to waste
We are pleased to hear that Glenwood Springs City Council is willing to consider at least some type of use for the old Glenwood Library building at Ninth and Blake. The building has sat idle for far too long, and it is time to bring some life back to that once-bustling downtown corner.
Kudos to new Glenwood Parks and Recreation Director Brian Smith for pointing out that there is a public value in using the facility to house some of the recreation programs that have outgrown the city’s heavily used Community Center.
And we agree it’s also an ideal location for some of the arts and dance programming that the city is taking over from the troubled Glenwood Arts Council, in addition to making use of the city-owned Center for the Arts building on Sixth Street.
Left unused, the former library just sits and becomes blight as repair costs grow with disuse. Already, the city has put a lot of money into deferred maintenance on the building without benefiting from any sort of return.
That building is either going to be a lost asset to the community, or end up costing more later in some fashion. The location is too good to let it just sit and rot.
The 35-year-old infrastructure, shortcomings notwithstanding, is too good to just tear it down. There’s a greater public good to be had than selling it off to be razed and become an apartment or commercial building, as some have suggested.
Other proposals for use of the facility, from a business incubator and co-working space, to shared space for multiple nonprofit organizations, to a community senior center, also have had merit. But the logistics of pulling something like that together, with competing interests at play and without solid government support for any one of them, have just proven to be too unworkable.
That said, we do want to encourage the city, Garfield County and private interests get together and find a home for a senior center, either as part of the programming at the old library or elsewhere within Glenwood Springs’ core area.
The aging baby boomer population is a reality driving the need for more senior services and activities. Forecasts from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Demographer’s Office suggest Garfield County was expected to see a 75 percent increase in the population of people age 65 and older between 2010 and 2020.
It’s happening, and it’s a population that should be recognized by providing places for senior citizens to socialize, stay active and remain contributing members of the community.
On the other end of the age spectrum, we also would like to see the city, county, school district and other interests work to find a new, permanent home for one of the most important human service organizations in our area, YouthZone.
It is a shame that a deal to sell off the library building to longtime YouthZone supporter Ted Edmonds fell through. Had that worked out, the plan was to provide office and programming space for YouthZone once the city takes over its current School Street office location, with an eye on redevelopment.
YouthZone provides absolutely crucial intervention and prevention services for troubled youth in the community, working closely with the juvenile courts system. It needs to be situated within walking distance of the courthouse.
Ideally, it would be nice to find a way to blend the generations in one facility. There is much to be gained from that approach. And, while it may not be possible at the former library building, it should at least be part of the broader conversation.
The money is available to meet both needs. The county can help the city, and there’s plenty of donor money if someone gets serious.