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Carbondale library wins approval from trustees

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The town’s trustees voted 6-0 Tuesday to approve a plan to build the new Carbondale branch library at the corner of Third and Sopris. The $4.7 million facility is expected to be completed in 2013.

The new 13,000-square-foot library is designed with interior spaces for children and young adults and will be large enough to hold a collection of more than 35,000 items.

The town of Carbondale will kick in up to $500,000 worth of infrastructure by installing items such as curb and gutter, and by waiving fees.

In return, the town will take possession of the existing 3,800-square-foot library, which sits on town-owned land at the corner of Fourth and Garfield.

Construction of the Carbondale library is the final project in a $25 million program to replace aging and undersized library branches throughout Garfield County, from Parachute to Carbondale.

The library district engaged in a lengthy outreach process that included three open houses to get input from residents, and worked with schools to learn what student users want in their public library.

The district also plans to work with the Carbondale Public Arts Commission to find local artists to design decorative elements in and around the new library.

Tuesday’s approval did not come without its share of drama, as residents expressed concern over five large spruce trees scheduled to be cut down to make way for the library development, and over a lack of active solar technology in the library’s design.

“The trees are really loved by the community,” said Trustee John Hoffmann. “They’re valued, and it’s a big deal.”

That sentiment was echoed by other trustees, including Pam Zentmyer and Trustee Frosty Merriott, who was absent but sent a letter giving his thoughts on the library application.

Merriott wrote that he had “real concerns that not much thought went into trying to save any of the five 80-year-old spruce trees, which are some of the most valuable trees in the Carbondale Tree Inventory.”

The library district’s project team maintained that the trees are nearing the end of their healthy lifespan and are in danger of toppling over, possibly onto the library itself.

Charlie Kees of DHM Design said plans call for planting numerous trees and shrubs around the building and the parking lot.

Following a suggestion by Hoffmann, trustees agreed to hold some sort of memorial service to honor the trees before they are cut down.

Library officials said the wood will be used in some way to enhance landscaping of the library grounds.

Regarding concerns about the energy consumption, lighting and other “green” aspects of the new library, architect Willis Pember and engineer Dan Richardson, of Schmueser Gordon Meyer, said the building is designed to perform 44 percent better than what would be required by the town’s codes.

Amelia Shelley, executive director of the Garfield Library District, said the installation of solar energy panels on library projects in Parachute, Rifle and New Castle was made possible by grants, government rebates and other financing procedures. The district lacks that kind of funding for the Carbondale project, she said.

She noted that the building will be prewired for rooftop solar panels for installation in the future.

Zentmyer suggested that the town may be able to contribute in some way to get photovoltaic panels or solar thermal technology added to the construction plans.

Just prior to the trustees’ vote, Mayor Stacey Bernot remarked that the town has reason to be proud of its part in the design process of the library.

“I think the community involvement in this process is profound,” Bernot said. “It embodies everything that I believe Carbondale is about.”

jcolson@postindependent.com


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