Questioning library `facts’ | AspenTimes.com
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Questioning library `facts’

Jim Paussa’s recent letter to local newspapers is critical of the library initiative appearing on the midvalley’s November ballot. Jim suggests that the library plan contributes to suburban sprawl.He is apparently not concerned that building on a comparable three-acre site in downtown Basalt would cost the taxpayers approximately $2 million more than acquiring the proposed site. He also fails to mention that the primary magnet for activity in the El Jebel area is the City Market complex that valley residents visit once or twice per week.City Market built its new store in El Jebel because the company could not negotiate a workable arrangement with the Basalt Town Council to keep the store in or near downtown Basalt.Jim also has a serious problem with the facts. The Basalt Regional Library District Board retained the architectural firm of Snowden & Hopkins to design the new library and remodel and expand the existing facility. This firm is headquartered in Vail. Vail is a long way from Houston.Snowden & Hopkins have built award-winning libraries in Vail, Avon and Eagle. They have completed these projects under budget and on time in every case. Locals who have visited these libraries have nothing but praise for the buildings’ mountain architecture, their functionality and their comfort.If Jim had looked at drawings of the proposed library, prominently placed in public locations and reproduced in brochures mailed to every voter, he would have seen the Snowden & Hopkins name.The planned building is not surrounded by asphalt. Parking space is a necessity for a library, but there will be attractive green spaces on three sides of the building, including an outdoor patio and a play area with a fountain for children. The proposed library will in no way resemble the Basalt post office.To my knowledge, no member has resigned from the library board in opposition to the proposal. There are seven members of the board and the vote to put this issue on the ballot was passed by a 7-0 vote. The minutes of board meetings are public information and may be obtained at the library by anyone interested in the board’s proceedings.The building site that the library board investigated in Southside, near the high school, was unavailable because the Basalt Town Council was unwilling to rezone the site. Jim’s conflict of interest charge is inaccurate and irrelevant.The public meetings that the library board held seeking input from the community did not produce an “overwhelming consensus.” If Jim had attended those meetings, he would know that the participants contributed widely diverse suggestions and requests.And if Jim would apply for a library card, he could borrow reading material at the Basalt Library that might engender a respect for accurate research.Ruth FreyBasalt


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