Voters to weigh in on Basalt library even before November’s election | AspenTimes.com
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Voters to weigh in on Basalt library even before November’s election

Basalt library officials will poll their constituents this summer before deciding whether to seek voter approval to build a new facility, according to the president of the board of trustees.Polly Pollard said a community survey should determine whether people are behind it.The board is considering seeking approval for a multimillion-dollar bond issue in the November election. It has a contract to buy 1 1/2 acres next to the Basalt post office from the town of Basalt. The sale is contingent on the library district receiving voter approval.Pollard said negative survey results could potentially force the district to skip the November election. “If we get a bunch of surveys back and people are against it, then yeah,” she said.But the board is optimistic that proposing the site by the post office will prove popular, Pollard said, and that it can pop the question to voters in November. The library district unsuccessfully sought $5.5 million from voters in 2004 for a new library in El Jebel. Critics contended the facility should remain in Basalt, closer to the schools.Pollard said the Denver firm that would handle the bond issue, George K. Baum and Co., suggested that the library district conduct a community survey. Constituents will receive the survey in the mail within the next two weeks. The district will also hold a series of community meetings later in the summer to collect public opinion.The board can wait until August to decide whether to approach voters in November, Pollard said. If it proceeds, there will be two ballot questions. One would seek the bond issue to build a new library; another would seek a property tax increase to boost operating revenues for that new facility. The board has not yet determined a definitive size or cost for the latest library plan. Pollard said the district must seek more than the $5.5 million it sought in 2004 because of higher costs. The board must purchase the site for the latest proposal; it would have leased a site if the El Jebel proposal had passed. In addition, construction costs have soared over the past two years.”It’s going to be more expensive. It’s definitely doable,” Pollard said.While a ballot question in November isn’t certain yet, the library district appears to be an organization headed down a set path. The district sent a mailing to constituents this week under the heading “2006 Planning Update.” It presses the point that the library is too small to meet the growing district’s needs.”The library – which was built in 1984 to serve a population of 3,000 – is now serving a district population of 10,000,” the mailing said.The current library, next to Basalt Town Hall, is about 3,500 square feet. Figures of between 15,000 and 20,000 square feet have been discussed for a new library. Pollard said the board wants the services needed at the library to dictate the size rather than the board setting a specific size and then determining what services that can accommodate.The highest-priority needs include a children’s room, seating and study space, and more computers.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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