Another library director exits Basalt |

Another library director exits Basalt

BASALT ” The Basalt Regional Library District is looking for its sixth executive director since December 2002 after the latest person to hold the post resigned abruptly last month.

Steve Cottrell quit during a meeting with the library district’s board of directors last month, board president Bud Eylar confirmed. Eylar said Cottrell might have been frustrated working on a plan for a new library and with the board on that plan.

“He said he had been thinking about [resigning],” Eylar said. “It may have been something was said that pushed him over the edge.”

Cottrell is a Glenwood Springs resident but no telephone number is listed in his name. He couldn’t be contacted for comment. He was at the post for only six months.

Eylar said there was no exchange between Cottrell and any members of the board, although it was obvious that the executive director was upset. “The frustration just came to the surface,” Eylar said. “It was a shock to the board. None of us saw it coming.”

Eylar said Cottrell received a favorable evaluation from the board a short time before his resignation. Eylar said that everybody he talked to on the library staff thought Cottrell “was doing a good job.”

Assistant Director Barbara Milnor was appointed interim executive director.

The timing of Cottrell’s departure couldn’t be worse. The district is finalizing plans for a new library next to the Basalt Post Office. Voters approved an $11 million bond issue in November 2006. Cottrell was hired last spring because he had experience with other library districts in building new facilities and he was enthused about helping in Basalt.

Cottrell’s departure won’t impact the construction project, Eylar claimed. The district already hired a project manager. Architects and a general contractor are in place. The executive director’s main role was answering questions about the services and spaces needed for a modern library. Eylar said two consultants with experience operating libraries will help when needed on those issues.

Cottrell’s departure is the latest in a string of resignations that have plagued the district. Jean Wirkler held the post for 17 years before resigning in December 2002. She quit in the middle of political bickering among board members and the community over where a new library should be located.

Linda Levy was hired to replace Wirkler in February 2003. She resigned one year later for personal reasons after a death in her family.

Robb Heckel came aboard in spring 2004 and resigned in December of that year because he couldn’t find affordable housing. He was commuting from Colorado Springs.

Britton Lund was hired in 2005 and remained until December 2006. She helped obtain voter approval for the new library and told friends she was only leaving because she was offered her “dream job.” Cottrell was hired in May 2007.

“Frankly, with this turnover we’ve had, we might have a problem” hiring a replacement, Eylar said. “They might not want to come here unless they’re convinced we know what we’re doing.”

The board of directors will talk about how to proceed with the hiring process at its next meeting on Jan. 14. Realistically, it will take six months to hire someone, Eylar said. He wondered how someone will feel about inheriting a library plan that is already finalized.

The pay range for the position is between about $85,000 to $95,000, according to Eylar.

Construction on a new multi-million-dollar library in Basalt won’t begin until late summer, Bud Eylar, president of the district’s board of directors said Friday.

Voters approved an $11 million bond issue for the new facility in November 2006.

It could take the district nearly two years to break ground after securing the funds.

Planning has taken longer than anticipated. Pat Fallin, who acted as board presi­dent for part of last year, told The Aspen Times in May 2007 that ground breaking was expected in early 2008. Eylar said last August that construction on the 20,000-­square-foot library would begin in mid-summer 2008. Now it looks more like late summer. Eylar said the project will begin during a six-week period from late July to early September.

A4 Architects of Carbondale is teaming up on the design with a Denver firm called Oz. A project manager as well as a general contractor have been hired by the library district.

The library district has a contract from the town of Basalt to purchase a site between the post office and skateboard park for $2.04 million. The library district will get $725,000 in credit for returning the current facility, which will be leased back to the town, once it moves.

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