Creating an entryway worthy of a prominent civic building was the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission's main concern when discussing a proposed expansion to the city's library.
Planning Commission members said Thursday that they did not mind that the proposed two-story, 20,000-square-foot addition to Bud Werner Memorial Library was set back from the corner of 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue. But they expected the entrance to the building from Lincoln Avenue to be a worthy, significant one.
"It will always be the entrance of Old Town, and I think that is what the issue is. We have to address that," Planning Commissioner Dana Stopher said.
On Thursday night, the East Routt Library Board came before the Planning Commission with its plans to add on to the library building. The board's preapplication plans gave planning commissioners a chance to give feedback about the project, but no formal vote was taken.
City Planner Tim McHarg said the planning staff's primary concern was the effect the addition would have on a key corner at the entrance of Old Town. The building should help facilitate the transition between the vehicular-oriented buildings west of Steamboat and the pedestrian-oriented downtown area, McHarg said.
"There needs to be a relationship between the streetscape and the front of the building," he said.
After five years of contemplating an expansion and discarding a plan that came through the city planning process in 2002, the library board decided to keep the existing library building for staff and community meeting rooms.
It wants to build an addition to house the book collection, computer areas and reading and study space. To build the addition, the Steamboat Springs Community Center would have to be demolished.
The expansion would be a triangular-shaped building with the main entrance facing the parking lot next to the Yampa River. The rear of the building would feature a curved glass wall with views of the Yampa River and Howelsen Hill.
A secondary entrance facing Lincoln Avenue would give downtown pedestrians a direct way to get into the building.
In his presentation to the board, architect Barry Petit said one of the main focuses of the project was to open up Soda Creek and connect the library to Little Toots Park. The goal is to create green space and a city park to punctuate the end of the pedestrian corridors through Lincoln Avenue and Yampa Street.
"We feel that end of town has enormous potential by the creation of green space. That opportunity to mix library with park is a very profound notion and, I feel, a great conclusion to Main Street," Petit said.
To create that green space, the library would lose some of its existing parking and, in exchange, would expand the parking lot across 13th Street from the library. Planning Commission members said they did not want to expand parking into West Lincoln Park. They preferred to enlarge the parking lot behind the addition or to have employees park at the nearby Depot Art Center.
"This is going to be the last gateway, I don't want a parking lot to be that gateway," Planning Commissioner Steve Lewis said.
Planning commissioners Dick Curtis and Kathi Meyer urged the library board to be careful about preserving the old trees on the site.
The library board has yet to present building materials for the addition, but Petit said they would mirror those that are common to Steamboat.
"This is a hundred-year building. This building is going to last for generations that are not even born yet," he said.
The library board hopes to ask voters in November to approve a bond to finance the building of the library addition.