Basalt officials shelve plans for moving library | AspenTimes.com
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Basalt officials shelve plans for moving library

Allyn Harvey

Midvalley library patrons and other taxpayers are being asked for help in locating and designing a new library.

Officials from the Basalt Library District agreed last night to discard plans for a new 20,000-square-foot library in favor of a more open process that includes surveys and public forums.

“If you want to spend this kind of money and build this kind of building – the kind of asset you heard them talk about tonight – then you need to have everyone you can involved,” said Larry Gottlieb, the former Basalt mayor who led the public process for funding and construction of the municipal pool.

When the library board members convene again on Feb. 12, they expect to have a better idea of what their next steps will be. Two things agreed upon at last night’s special meeting were the need for a written comment period to give the public a chance to say where it thinks a new library should go, and the need to begin a public meeting process to solicit public comment.

Gottlieb agreed to assist the library district’s board of directors as a mediator and advisor.

The decision to scrap the year-long plans came in the wake of a joint meeting between the library board and the Basalt Town Council. The library directors had tentatively selected a site south of the Basalt bypass, near the high school, for the new library.

But when they took their plan to the Town Council for comment, they were met with a fair amount of indignation.

The Town Council balked at the idea of relocating the library from Lions Park in the center of old-town Basalt and strongly suggested that the library board wait for the town to relocate City Hall, currently next door to the library. That would allow the library to expand without moving across town.

“I was shocked,” said library director Jean Winkler.

Winkler recalled an October 1999 meeting between the library board and the Town Council where the council members made it clear that they had no plans for moving City Hall and weren’t even interested in purchasing the library’s building. “I really felt the Town Council had told us we were on our own.”

But library board member Jo Ann Glassier said she thought the Town Council was serious about its more recent offer to relocate, and she thought it would behoove the board to start anew in its quest for a new facility.

“I would rather wait another year to make sure the public is involved,” she said. “I don’t want the impression that we were running full ahead to get a new building.”

Taxpayers in the Basalt Library District will need to approve a property tax increase before a new site is purchased and a building constructed.

Glassier and her colleagues agreed that the best solution was to start over with more public comment. They and some of the library staff have received a deluge of comments ever since the plan to relocate the building across the highway made it into the papers. About a dozen library patrons showed up at last night’s meeting to express concern about the relocation plan. They urged the board to take more public comment. A few objected to relocating the library out of the center of town. And some volunteered their time to the effort.

“I would like to be involved with the design, and I have strong feelings about where the library is put,” said Beth Wille.

She noted that the post office was recently relocated just a short distance from its longtime location in the heart of Basalt. “It’s just a short way across the bridge, but it’s not the same.”


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