Library district discusses new digs

J.J. Folsom of the Grand Jumction City Center Catalyst Project points out the real estate that is owned by the Mesa County Public Library on an aerial photo to benefactors of the library who met Tuesday.

Does Grand Junction really need a new central library?

The answer Tuesday evening during a gathering of longtime financial contributors to the library was, “Yes.” The group of about a dozen people, led by library Director Eve Tallman, is meeting occasionally to discuss how to build a new central library.

The group has enough funds from a Community Development Block Grant, obtained through the city of Grand Junction, to figure the viability and feasibility of a new central library at 530 Grand Ave.

The Mesa County Library District already hired a design team comprised of the firms P.U.M.A., Civitas and George K. Baum & BRSA.

“This should all result in an action plan,” Tallman said.

The price tag of a new library?

“It is going to cost at least $10 million,” she said.

The redesign effort focuses on library property between Fifth and Sixth streets and between Grand and Chipeta avenues. The library, the city of Grand Junction, the Downtown Development Authority, the Grand Junction Housing Authority and Mesa County are partners in the effort.

The central library is falling apart, Tallman said. In the 1950s the building used to be a grocery store.

“It’s got lots of serious infrastructure problems,” Tallman said, “and the outlying buildings are equally bad.”

Parts of the library’s campus are in such bad shape they are condemned, Tallman said.

At the same time, library usage is increasing, said Lois Becker, development director for Mesa County Libraries.

To accomplish the goal of a new library the community is slowly being drawn into the discussion. The last two times the library tried a bond election, voters rejected the measures. Memories of those failures were fresh on the minds of stakeholders Tuesday.

Voters had the impression “we were building the Taj Mahal,” said Mary Adams, a library stakeholder.

Another stakeholder, Betty Hall, said some people tell her they have no need for the library or tell her: “I have the Internet.”

Another complaint from the public is the central library gets all the attention, while the branch libraries languish with little funding.

Tallman said the district has addressed that concern with new branch locations in Clifton and Orchard Mesa and plans for another two new branches in Palisade. Mesa County Libraries has no plan, as of now, to go to the voters with a bond question.

“It would be nice if we didn’t have to go to the voters,” Becker said.

Bottom line is the central library project needs more than the $3.2 million that donors have contributed so far.

“That’s what we are missing here is big money,” said Marilyn Stein, a library stakeholder. “We need a sugar daddy.”


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