Basalt library district appears to have learned lesson from ’04 |

Basalt library district appears to have learned lesson from ’04

Two years ago, the Basalt Regional Library District lost a contentious election when it proposed to finance and build a new library in El Jebel. There were many reasons for the loss, and we’ll recount a few of them here, but it appears the district’s board of directors learned valuable lessons from the 2004 experience.The district’s new plan – to buy land and put a new library next to the Basalt post office – is already a cut above the 2004 proposal. We don’t have details yet on the size and scale of the new building, but we know that it is one building and that it’s within walking distance of downtown Basalt.The 2004 proposal had a number of flaws, including the fact that it involved two libraries – a new 16,000-square-foot main library in El Jebel and a remodeling of the existing structure next to Town Hall. The main opposition group called itself Citizens for One Library and lambasted the district’s proposal as expensive and grandiose.Those were valid criticisms, but the fatal flaw was the proposed westward migration of the “main” building to El Jebel (district officials carefully avoided using terms like “main” and “satellite” to describe the two libraries, but that’s what they were). The majority of Basaltines in Elk Run and the so-called Hill District simply wouldn’t settle for a satellite library with the mothership down the road. (They’ll be outnumbered by “West Basalt” voters in a few years, but that’s a discussion for another day.)Nobody ever argued during the campaign that the midvalley doesn’t need a new library; clearly the existing 3,500-square-foot structure will not carry a growing town into the future. The 2004 proposal lost because it wasn’t the right proposal.Voters won’t have their say on the new library plan until November, so it’s early in the process. We cannot endorse a project before we see the details. But there is reason for optimism; this is one library, located in old Basalt (or at least close by) and smartly positioned between the post office and a new riverside park. The library board has reached an agreement to buy about one and a half acres from the town of Basalt between the post office and the Roaring Fork River. The town acquired the vacant parcel earlier this year and intends to place a park on the portion of the property nearest the river.”Just the vibe from the town is so much better,” Polly Pollard of the library board said.At a glance, it appears the library board took to heart the results of the 2004 vote. We look forward to learning more details of this plan for a key civic entity in the midvalley.

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