Library planners mull options

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— South Routt Library District officials are down but they may not be out of a $300,000 energy impact grant that was contingent on passage of a library construction bond.

On Tuesday, voters in south Routt narrowly voted down two referendums that would have paid for a new library to be built, staffed and operated in Oak Creek. One referendum went down by 81 votes and the other by 119, with 1,294 people voting.

"It was disappointing. You wonder what were their reasons," South Routt Library Board President Liz Mauch said.

But library officials still have options.

In August, the district received a $300,000 grant from the Colorado Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Advisory Committee to help pay for a new library. Conditions of the grant stated the district would have to come up with the funds to build the new library by June 30, 2001, to receive the money, said Cathy Shipley of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

Usually, the grants are awarded to projects that already have the money ready. However, the committee that recommends grant money liked the south Routt library idea and opted to give the district the money before they had the construction funds, Shipley said.

Since the referendums that would have covered the construction costs failed, library officials are wondering what they can do to retain the grant.

"It could be that we could carry it over another year," Mauch said.

Though the library board needs to decide for sure what it wants to do, the project manager for the new building, Dina Murray, said she felt confident that a similar bond issue will be on a future ballot in south Routt.

Ideally, the board would extend the $300,000 grant for a year, to see if it can get community support at another election.

Both Mauch and Murray speculated that having the South Routt School District's $8.9 million bond issue on the same ballot Tuesday was a factor in the referendums failing. The school bond passed comfortably.

"We never wanted to be in competition with each other, but we were competing for the same tax dollars," Mauch said. "It was a tough pill for voters to swallow."

However, an election where the library district isn't directly competing for tax dollars a year later might have a different outcome, Mauch believes.

"It is not improbable that the grant deadline could be extended for a year," Shipley said. "We have had year extensions for other projects."

However, the idea is something that would have to be looked at more closely and other options should be considered, she said.

"It's really up to the district to make a request," Shipley said.

There is a possibility that the Department of Local Affairs would offer the district another grant in the future, instead of tying up the $300,000 for a year and keeping it out of the hands of other groups doing community projects, Shipley said.

If the district does seek an extension, ultimately the decision to grant it will come from Bob Brooks, the executive director of the Department of Local Affairs.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206

or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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