Proposed library plans laid out

Officials generally optimistic about proposal

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— Plans for a 24,000-square-foot library met with general acceptance from the Steamboat Springs City Council Tuesday, but some concerns were raised.

At a council meeting at Centennial Hall, officials gave initial opinions on the preliminary plan, which consists of a general size and place.

Everyone at the meeting said the site is ideal. The plan is to build the new library where the Steamboat Springs Community Center is, next to the existing library.

"I absolutely, firmly believe this is the right location for the library," Councilman Paul Strong said.

Officials generally agreed setting the building back from Lincoln Avenue is the right thing to do.

"I'm really comfortable on where they put the building; it's pretty intelligent," Planning Commissioner Scott Myller said.

The East Routt Library District is proposing to set the building back from the street at an angle next to Soda Creek. It encroaches the 50-foot setback regulation for a water body.

Architect Barry Petit, hired for the project, said the plan is meant to accentuate Soda Creek. Some officials were fine with allowing a setback variance.

Myller said it's a public facility, and the public will appreciate having the creek interact with the building.

Councilman Steve Ivancie said setbacks are there to protect from flooding.

"Soda Creek is going to present a real challenge," he said.

There were also concerns about what would happen to the community center and the people who use the building.

"We are going to have to tear down a perfectly good building. I see that as a problem that we as a community will have to deal with," Steamboat Springs Planning Commissioner Kathi Meyer said.

Councilman Bud Romberg echoed that sentiment.

Groups who use the community center frequently including seniors and the American Legion are concerned about tearing down the facility, even though plans are to move the community center into the existing library.

American Legion representative Jim Stanko reminded council members the organization signed a 90-year lease with the city when the building was constructed in the 1970s.

"We want to be part of the process," Stanko said of deciding what to do with the displaced groups. "We don't want to be swept into a broom closet along the way."

Planning Commissioner Dick Curtis also said the size of the building 24,000 square feet and maybe 36 feet tall is going to be an issue.

"The overall height (and size) of the building will compromise the town," he said.

Despite the concerns, there was optimism about the plan.

"I think we have some exciting energy here for this side of town," Council President Kathy Connell said. "I'm very excited about the project and I can't wait to see the next step."

East Routt Library District President Tom Hopp said he hasn't decided on a time frame on when the next step will come or when voters will have a chance to decide on paying for it. He did say that is the next thing that needs to be considered.

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