Basalt library proposal sails through its initial review |

Basalt library proposal sails through its initial review

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT ” One week after it appeared the Basalt library district’s proposal for a 21,000-square-foot facility was headed toward a rough review, it sailed through an important first step Tuesday night.

The Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-0 to recommend approval of the new library. The proposal now goes to the Basalt Town Council for review.

In a joint meeting of the Town Council and planning commission last week, a number of questions were raised about the project. Chief among them was whether the district should be required to build affordable housing as part of the project, and whether the town government should lease rather than sell a 1.5-acre site to the district.

Town staff found that the district was exempt from affordable housing requirements because it isn’t a commercial use. However, some observers felt the district would be wise including affordable housing in its plan, since it is facing trouble recruiting and retaining directors.

While those issues raised a fuss last week, they played only a small role in Tuesday’s debate. Instead, members of the planning commission expressed support for getting a new facility built as soon as possible. The future site of the library is between the Basalt post office and skateboard park along Midland Avenue.

“It’s more than very important to have a library downtown,” said planning commission chairman Bill Maron.

Planning commission member Bernie Grauer stressed the importance of having the facility within walking distance of the schools. He also credited the district with a design that features wood and copper siding. “It’s a nice change from just brick facades,” he said.

The library district has an agreement to buy its proposed new home from the town government for $2.04 million. The district will get $725,000 credit off the sales price for returning the current facility, which it leases from the town.

Midvalley voters approved an $11 million bond issue for the project in November 2006. The bonds will be paid off through a property tax increase.

If the library district secures Town Council approval for its project, it hopes to break ground in August. The library will take 13 to 14 months to build, then it will have to relocate into the new facility, district representatives said Tuesday. That will push the opening to fall 2009.


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