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Basalt library seeking new location

The Basalt Regional Library’s board of directors is starting a new chapter in its quest to build a bigger midvalley library.The library district will seek approval from voters in November for funds to buy land adjacent to the Basalt post office and build a 20,000-square-foot building, according to board President Polly Pollard.The district’s board of directors has reached an agreement to purchase about one and a half acres owned by the town government. The sale is contingent on voters granting funding approval in November.The property, known as Midland Addition, is located between the skateboard park and the post office. It is vacant land. The town acquired it earlier this year from developers Paul Adams, Clay Crossland and Michael Lipkin, who had intended to build a hotel there.Voters two years ago rejected the library district’s proposal for a new facility in El Jebel after a nasty campaign. There was widespread opposition from Basalt residents who said the library should remain in town.The library district’s board of directors feels this latest proposal addresses that concern. The proposed site is within walking distance of downtown.Pollard said town residents who are aware of the proposal seem receptive. “Just the vibe from the town is so much better,” she said.The district is working with an architect on a design and interior layout scheme for the proposed building. Minutes from previous library district board meetings indicate the desire for a two-story design. Pollard said the board hasn’t determined yet how much funding to seek from voters. More operating funds will also be needed.A bond issue of $5.5 million was before voters in 2004. Pollard noted that construction prices have increased since then. Also, the prior proposal envisioned leasing land rather than buying it.The land for the new library was appraised at $2,040,000. However, the library district will also get credit for returning the existing library to the town government, according to Basalt Town Manager Bill Efting.The district leases the library in Lion’s Park from the town government. There are 17 years left on the lease. The facility has been valued at $700,000, so the library district would pay an additional $1,340,000 for the Midland Addition site, Efting said.”We’re getting market value for the land we purchased,” Efting said. “We’re not doing them any favors.”The town would retain land along the Roaring Fork River at Midland Addition. That land will eventually become a park, Efting said. He touted the combination of the post office, the library and a riverside park as a great main entrance to the town.Library district officials have maintained for years that they have outgrown the old library, which is about 3,500 square feet. Pollard said the library cannot offer adequate space and services for a district that has 13,000 people and is growing at a steady pace.She said a new library would feature a large, dedicated, fully staffed children’s room; additional computer stations for research and Internet use; additional quiet spaces with comfortable chairs, good lighting, tables and study surfaces; and wired, flexible, multiuse spaces for meetings, classes, tutoring and presentations.The town government would welcome control of the old library building because of its own need for space. “Over the next five to 10 years, we’re going to need more space if things continue to go like they are now,” Efting said.His preliminary idea is to convert the library into meeting space for the Basalt Town Council and for the community. Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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