Pitkin County Library project scaled down | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County Library project scaled down

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council’s special meeting on the Pitkin County Library’s expansion application, originally scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, will take place at noon Thursday at City Hall.

Library Director Kathy Chandler said the meeting was rescheduled for Thursday so that all four council members and Mayor Mick Ireland could be present. One council member had a scheduling conflict with plans for a meeting Monday, she said.

The council has twice held public hearings and discussions on the county’s library proposal, which involves a new two-story building that would add 7,198 square feet to the library’s existing 31,703-square-foot size. Council members have voiced concerns over the size of the building as well as a canopy that would cover the entire facility while also extending over some of the green space of the city’s Galena Plaza area, which also is slated for redevelopment.

Library planners still plan to present a canopy design with a skylight, allowing the sun to pass through and alleviating some of the public’s concerns about the shading of a large portion of the plaza, Chandler said. However, she said new designs worked out over the past few weeks include lower building and canopy heights.

Previously, the highest canopy point was designed to rise to 29.75 feet at the middle of the facility. Now, the highest point would be 28 feet at the middle if the new plan is approved.

“It peaks over the (eastside) entrance, and then it comes down again,” Chandler said of the new canopy design. “That makes the inside of the new building come down lower, too.”

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Chandler said the canopy will still need to extend to a certain point over Galena Plaza because it has to be aligned with certain support structures within the Rio Grande Parking Garage. The garage lies underneath the plaza.

“We’re still proposing that because it’s much less intrusive on the garage than cutting into all of the beams of the parking garage to hold the (new library structure),” she said.

The council held public hearings on the library proposal on June 11 and 25. Opinion was split fairly evenly among local residents, business and civic leaders and library users who spoke about plans for the new extension and the canopy.

Pitkin County commissioners have little more than a month to vote on a potential item for the Nov. 6 ballot that would ask voters for a property tax increase in order to pay for half of the project’s $10 million construction cost as well as annual operating costs stemming from the expanded space. Commissioners need the city’s approval on the land-use application, however, before proceeding with their crafting of the ballot question.

A survey of 300 active voters within the library district indicated that 59 percent of the electorate would vote for a property tax increase equal to an additional $16 or $17 annually on a home valued at $1 million to renovate and expand the library. Another 35 percent said they would not vote for the tax, and 6 percent said they didn’t know.

FrederickPolls conducted the telephone survey July 9 through 17.

asalvail@aspentimes.com

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