Library district to ask public its vision for a new building

Meeting scheduled for May 21 in Gunnison

The Gunnison County Library District is making progress on plans to build a new public library on the corner of 11th Street and Spencer Avenue in Gunnison, according to library director Carol Primus.



A meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, May 21 at 7 p.m. at the library building at 307 N. Wisconsin in Gunnison as an opportunity for the public to provide input to the planners on what they would like to see the library offer.
“We’re only going to do what the public wants at the library,” says Primus.
More than a year ago, the library district hired the architectural firm Barker, Rinker and Seacat of Denver to do the preliminary planning for the project, which started in February.
“We opened the bidding to a competitive process and then interviewed five firms that could provide what we needed. Then through the process of elimination we chose [Barker, Rinker and Seacat],” Primus says, noting that the same firm also designed the municipal library building in Durango.
The Library District was formed by the Gunnison County commissioners at the end of 2007 to provide a consistent funding base for the libraries through a set mil levy, instead of being subject to the availability of funds in the county’s budget.
Longtime Gunnison Valley stockman Ray Van Tuyl donated a five-acre lot just north of the Gunnison Community School in 2007, specifically for a library or community education, says Primus.
Although nothing is set in stone, Primus says the new library building is going to be somewhere in the 20,000-sq.-ft. range, nearly four times as large as the building the library currently occupies.
That building in Gunnison, is the property of Gunnison County and will return to the county after the new library is completed.
Based on the cost projections in 2003 when the planning was in its early stages and a different firm was making the calculations, the project estimate was approximately $5 million for just the construction of the new library, says Primus, adding that there was going to be about a 3 percent annual assumed escalation of that price. There would also be “soft costs” such as architects, engineering, relocation and other expenses that the previous firm estimated would cost $1.1 million in 2003.
“Since then, construction costs have spiraled upwards at a much faster rate, so right now, I have no good guess [of the cost],” says Primus. “We do want to incorporate ‘green’ building techniques whenever possible.”
Funding for the new building will come from a combination of public and private resources, including $50,000 allocated from the county sales tax fund in the county’s 2008 budget by the county commissioners, a $15,000 grant from the Met Rec district, other grants and private funds.
“We had a large chunk of money left to [the library district] in Ray Van Tuyl’s will and although we haven’t gotten that money yet, when we do it will be a big help to have some good seed money for capital projects and things. There is also a lot of grant money out there that will help,” says Primus.
The library’s board is also planning to do some fund-raising locally and hoping to get a local citizens’ group involved in getting money together for the project.
The district is also planning to ask voters to approve a bond issue in November 2009, which is when it could reach the ballot. And when they bring it to voters, “We’re going to make sure that the bond issue isn’t outrageously expensive. We aren’t going for the Cadillac of libraries,” says Primus.
“Until then we just want input on what kind of things people want and also consider a redirection of resources for services in Crested Butte,” she says. Currently, the Library District operates the Old Rock Community Library at 507 Maroon Avenue in Crested Butte.
Because the Old Rock Library is a historical building belonging to the town of Crested Butte, Primus says it couldn’t be expanded physically, but extended hours are a possibility. “We are studying having a library presence probably very, very small in the new North Village development in Mt. Crested Butte,” she says.
“The [library] district did a building program a few years ago with the services we would have in a dream library, but we’re re-examining some of those uses,” says Primus, adding that advancements in technology had left some of their early thinking seeming outdated.
“We originally thought we’d need a computer lab with Internet access, but now we’ve found that what we need is access to a wireless network with laptops to loan out. What direction [the facility] takes depends on what the people want,” she says.
Although information about when the library might be expected to open isn’t available, the public is invited to learn more and provide input to library planners and representatives of Barker, Rinker and Seacat at a meeting Wednesday, May 21 at the library building in Gunnison, 307 N. Wisconsin at 7 p.m.

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