Fiscally cautious plan brings the library home
When the Mesa County Public Library District’s Central Library reopens today at its long-established home at the corner of Fifth Street and Grand Avenue, it will do so in an expanded and revamped building that is more user-friendly and more visually appealing.
It will also do so without the library district having raised taxes or going into debt.
Both those facts are cause for celebration, and outgoing Library Director Eve Tallman and the library’s board of directors deserve credit for finding a means to get the much-needed library project completed without asking local taxpayers once again to raise tax rates.
The effort to plan for an expansion and remodel project began almost immediately after voters rejected — in 2004 — the second ballot measure in as many years that would have raised tax rates and allowed the library to construct an entirely new building and other facilities at the Fifth-and-Grand site as well as on adjacent properties.
Although many locals, including this newspaper, supported those tax plans and they each lost by very narrow margins, library leaders wisely decided after the 2004 defeat that they should take a different tack.
So, they began scaling back the scope of the project while saving money in the library’s capital reserve fund. They also began seeking grants and community donations to help pay for the project. And they waited until they had most of the money they needed in hand to move forward with the project.
They also chose to build at a fortuitous time, when the slow economy led to lower bid prices.
The $6.7 million project is being paid for with money from capital reserves, savings in the operating budget, grants from various organizations and a $1.25 million capital campaign.
It has added 9,000 square feet to the previous structure, bringing the total size of the reconstructed Central Library to 45,000 square feet. It includes expanded areas for reading and studying, a new multipurpose rtoom that can seat up to 190 people, several meeting rooms for smaller groups, better access from parking areas on both the west and east sides of the building, more natural lighting, improved teen and children’s areas and fenced outdoor patios for the multipurpose room and children’s area.
The construction has taken a little less than a year to complete. During that time, the Central Library has operated out of an old furniture store on First Street just north of Grand Avenue. It has served adequately, but was far from ideal, limiting the number of books and other materials displayed.
Users of the Central Library should be thrilled with the remodeled building at Fifth and Grand, as well as the means by which it was funded.
Take time to join in the events today, including the rededication ceremony at 4 p.m. Or visit the Central Library in the coming weeks to see what all the fuss is about.