Expanded library too costly and unnecessary
August 18, 2012
I’ve been keeping up with the pros and cons regarding the proposed Aspen library expansion, and I also listened to the City Council proceedings where the height of the canopy and easement were addressed. At that meeting, I heard the head librarian say that they didn’t want to build a library addition that the public didn’t want. Well, I have to tell you that I don’t want it. I haven’t spoken to anyone who wants the expansion and feels it is necessary.
I am in agreement with the many letters to the editors of the paper that have brought up things like the huge expense to us local taxpayers. The library’s proposed budget for the expansion is more than $10 million for some interior remodeling, more tech facilities and adding around 7,000 square feet for more additional meeting rooms, particularly for teenagers, and a huge, tall, white canopy.
That amount seems really excessive to me even if we really needed this additional space and if we were not in the worst recession of our lives.
Our library is already more than 32,000 square feet, much larger than any library for a town our size. And people in many areas of Pitkin County, such as Redstone, Old Snowmass and Basalt, don’t even use the Pitkin County Library in Aspen. They use the closer libraries in Carbondale and Basalt.
The library already has a multimillion-dollar yearly budget, and it is asking that even this substantial yearly amount be raised to cover the additional ongoing expenses that they expect with this costly expansion that they want us to agree to.
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So, I understand that the library has around $5 million in the bank and maybe it’s burning a hole in their pockets. But I think that instead of asking us for another $5 million plus, they should do what they can with what this sizable sum that they already have.
With that $5 million, they can do modifications they may feel that they need to address in the interior, make their tech improvements, make better use of the mezzanine level and even put in more windows since they seem to feel that people need a view while they read or use computers. All this should be able to be accomplished with lots of money left over. This is a much better option – it saves us a lot of money, and it doesn’t necessitate losing green space.
In this letter, I’ve talked about several negatives to this proposed expansion of the library, and I haven’t mentioned yet the huge 30-foot-high white canopy that will cover the modern addition to the brick library and will block out the clock tower on the existing library. In the artist’s renderings, the canopy looks so huge and white. It will look so out of place on the traditional brick library, which was designed to complement the historic brick courthouse next door. It will also take over much of the park area which is adjacent to the library, where we enjoy the outdoor Shakespeare productions.
The librarian says that they don’t want to build something that we locals don’t want. My wife and I definitely don’t want the costly, intrusive and unnecessary library expansion. I hope that those of you who feel like we do will speak out, so we don’t have this totally unnecessary tax burden levied on us during this difficult time.
We have better things to spend our money on.