Library seeks designs for expanded building

The Mesa County Public Library District took the first step Thursday night toward expanding the central library, a project administrators say is needed to meet growing user demand and shore up structural deficiencies.

The district’s Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to ask architectural firms to submit their qualifications to design a building remodel and expansion. The board also agreed to hold a pair of open houses Nov. 14 and 15 to share information with and gather feedback from the public.

The vote came after members of the Board of Trustees and the Mesa County Library Foundation reviewed conceptual sketches that were part of a feasibility study conducted by Denver architect Barker, Rinker and Seacat.

“To me, it looks every bit like a brand new building,” foundation board member Kevin Bray said.

If approved, the $5.5 million project would tack on 9,000 square feet to the 36,000-square-foot facility at 530 Grand Ave, with a multipurpose room and additional public and meeting space accounting for most of the additional square footage. Much of the existing building would be remodeled.

The library would use existing money in its fund balance to pay for construction. No additional taxes would be requested.

Construction could begin next April and be complete in May 2013.

Bruce Flynn, principal with Barker, Rinker and Seacat, told library leaders the project would extend by 50 years the life of the central library, which was built in the early 1950s and originally served as a Safeway grocery store. Officials say it’s now too small and outdated to serve the needs of a base of patrons that continues to increase in size.

Library trustees are moving toward a remodeled and expanded library as a so-called Catalyst Project has gained no momentum since it was first suggested several years ago. That project, which would involve several public agencies, proposed a reconstruction of several downtown blocks between Fourth and Sixth streets and Grand and Chipeta avenues to include a new central library, a new senior recreation center, housing and retail space.


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