Library plan makes sense |

Library plan makes sense

U.S. Public Library standards indicate that the Basalt Regional Library has only one-third the square footage that is adequate for a library district of 11,000 people. The current space shortage will be one-fifth of what is needed in 10 years.

District taxpayers currently contribute 20 cents for library services for every dollar that is invested by taxpayers in neighboring Western Slope communities (Aspen, Durango, Vail, Steamboat Springs and Telluride). The library district has not asked for a mill increase in over 20 years.

The Basalt Regional Library Board has struggled for several years trying to devise a sensible plan to provide modern library services to the midvalley. The current library site in Lions Park is too small for a new facility of adequate size.

A site for a new building in the Southside neighborhood would require a zoning change that is inconsistent with Basalt’s master plan. A potential site on the Levinson property would delay construction for several years because of flood mitigation issues and would be significantly more expensive than other alternatives.

The Crawford family has generously made available a 1.3-acre site in El Jebel. This site is large enough to build a one-story facility and to provide adequate parking. Staffing a one-story building would be significantly less expensive than staffing the two-story building that was contemplated for the Levinson property.

District taxpayers would also save approximately $500,000 in land acquisition costs. The Crawford site has electricity and gas at the lot line and ready access to water and sewer. A fiber optic node exists only one block away. The site is adjacent to existing stops for RFTA and school buses.

The proposed library will be an easy stop for patrons who live in Missouri Heights, Basalt, Snowmass or the Fryingpan Valley when they visit the City Market complex. The site is an easy walk from El Jebel and a short bike ride from Blue Lake, Sopris Village and Willits.

If we build a new facility in El Jebel, what should be done with the current library in Lions Park? The library district owns the building outright. Twenty years remain on a site lease at $10 per year. Should we abandon the building and throw away the lease?

This makes no economic sense. We can expand and modernize the facility for less than it would cost to add an additional 4,000 square feet to the new building. Two sites would be very convenient, permitting patrons to pick up and drop off books at either location.

The space for the children’s collection and for children’s programs will be doubled. We will also dramatically increase the number of computer stations and provide dedicated space for volunteer tutorial programs such as English education and computer training.

District residents will be asked to vote on a mill levy increase in November to pay for a new library at El Jebel and a renovated facility in Lion’s Park. If the initiative passes, district property owners will face tax bills that are comparable to the amounts that are currently paid in neighboring communities.

Library services will be significantly improved. Invest in our children. Invest in our community. Support the initiative to bring modern library facilities to the midvalley. Visit the Basalt Regional Library for more information.

Peter Frey


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