County library ponders Redlands branch

Mesa County Public Library District administrators are beginning to explore the possibility of establishing a branch on the Redlands, believing there could be thousands of customers who would take advantage of having a facility closer to their home.

At the same time, they’re proceeding with a healthy dose of caution and skepticism, noting that even though local library usage continues to climb, adding a branch may be difficult during a recession and at a time when branches around the country are shuttering,

“The whole idea in general of branch expansion certainly deserves our attention, but I have to say at this juncture it makes me nervous to talk about opening a new branch,” Library Director Eve Tallman said.

The library has focused on enhancing its branches in recent years. It relocated branches to larger spaces on Orchard Mesa and Clifton last year, and it will move the Fruita branch from the Civic Center to the Community Center when the center opens early next year.

Officials also are in talks about moving the Palisade branch from the Community Center there to the old Palisade High School the town is in the process of renovating into a civic center.

Tallman said she’s been contemplating a Redlands branch since she was hired in 2007. Local government planners anticipate the greatest area of growth in the Grand Valley in the next 25 years will occur in the Appleton area in north Grand Junction, meaning patrons conceivably could zip up to the Redlands via 24 Road and Redlands Parkway.

Tallman said roughly 2,700 people who use the central library have an 81507 ZIP code — the ZIP code for the Redlands — but that as many as 5,000 people live on the west end of Grand Junction who are library customers. The population of the Redlands is around 12,000.

She said the library’s challenge is to figure out how those residents travel on a daily basis, separating those in the downtown area — and therefore close to the central branch — from those who aren’t.

The library also is bracing for a revenue drop in 2012, since assessed values then will be determined by the current real estate market. She also noted that even if the library finds a bargain on space for a Redlands branch, staffing and stocking the branch will be expensive.

“I don’t want to open a branch in the Redlands and two years from now have to close it,” she said.


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