Reject proposed library expansion | AspenTimes.com

Reject proposed library expansion

Dear Editor:

The fact that the library planner told City Council that if it would not approve the 60-foot expansion onto the Galena public plaza, the library could go ahead and do their interior remodel with their own $5 million, without public approval,” is pause enough to vote “no” for this library expansion!

At 32,000 square feet, the current library is already one of the largest libraries in Colorado and is ranked in the top 3.5 percent of the U.S. With an annual budget of $3.9 million, plus an endowment fund of more than $5 million, we are taxed as much for our library as we are for our fire protection. At a $121,000 salary, the head librarian has the third-highest salary of all county employees, even higher than our county sheriff and airport director.

The new proposed 7,000-square-foot contemporary concrete and glass addition, which will extend 60 feet into the public plaza, will be an energy hog and serve little purpose other than costing the public $10.2 million, which over a 25-year life, is $20 million. At more than $1,700 a square foot, this is just too expensive and unnecessary. It will cost the average household $127 more in taxes and four times that amount for businesses.

Then of course, if it passes, we have to hire more librarians to operate the expansion, at another $141,000 annually in perpetuity making the library district of 12,000 voters, one the highest-taxing districts, if not the highest, in the county!

Just as important, we are giving up our valuable, coveted public park, Galena Plaza, a park that once gone is gone forever. Galena Plaza is used by adults for a quiet lunch and read on a fall day, by kids in the summer, Children’s Theatre in the Park and by adults for the annual free Shakespeare performances in the park. It is enjoyed by our tourists and locals alike for its views in all directions, all year around, including the Rio Grande game field below. It does not have to be used as a continual playground to be considered special and used. Most cities would do anything to have an open air plaza as lovely as our Galena park, which will be even better once the garage roof is repaired.

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The library could be on the cutting edge of modern technology with a library loaning out iPads, Kindles to every child and adult in the community and setting up free Wi-Fi throughout the plaza and surrounding areas, spreading the wealth and access of the digital age throughout community. Instead, the library wants to use bricks and mortar which takes us back to the past century.

Needless to say, our current library is already Americans With Disabilities Act-accessible, already has space large enough for more meeting rooms, already has a children’s library and teen area, and already has meeting rooms with more meeting rooms within short distance at Rio Grande, the soon-to be vacated art museum, the Red Brick and fire station.

No need to go to the taxpayers because our library already has its own endowment of more than $5 million to meet all of its needs within the existing walls! Our library is one of the best-funded, highest-taxing districts in the county.

Please vote “no” on 5A and 5B.

Junee Kirk

Aspen

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