Council likes library plan

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— The Steamboat Springs City Council smiled on the plans for expanding Bud Werner Memorial Library.

At Tuesday's council meeting, the East Routt Library District presented pre-application plans for a 20,000-square-foot, two-story expansion to the building at the corner of 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Council members said they liked the district's concept of integrating the library expansion into the existing park setting created by Little Toots Park and Soda Creek.

Council President Paul Strong thanked the library board for its decision to keep the library downtown and on the existing site.

"This is the right place for the library," Strong said. "I think it is going to be a cherished piece of what the downtown is for a long time to come."

Strong said that earlier in the process, expansion had fluctuated between an urban and a park design.

"Some of the early designs were somewhat in limbo. To me, this really does fit into the park setting," he said.

After five years of looking at an expansion, and previously discarding a plan that came through the city planning process in 2002, the library board decided to keep the existing library building for staff use 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 torn down.

The district made some changes to the plan after hearing concerns from the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission earlier this month. The most significant change was bringing more features to the side of the building facing Lincoln Avenue.

At the Planning Commission meeting, members were concerned that the entrance along Lincoln Avenue was not distinct and not worthy of a prominent civic building.

The plans that came before council Tuesday night showed an art plaza that anchored the corner of 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue. The art plaza retained the large pine tree in front of the building and rows of aspen on either side of the pine. The plan also included an entrance off Lincoln Avenue that is visible and closer to the street than the one the Planning Commission saw.

The main entrance of the building is proposed off a parking lot next to the Yampa River.

The majority of council's comments favored the site plans and the expanded building's orientation to Lincoln Avenue.

Two councilmen had concerns about the effects the library would have on the community center and the large number of senior programs held there. Councilman Ken Brenner suggested the city engage different community groups to discuss a community center and who the different user groups should be and the funding available for it.

The library board had suggested that the new community center be built on land near the Stock Bridge Multimodal Center. Library board president Tom Hopp said the library would not be built until the community center is replaced.

Barbara Bronner, a Routt County Council on Aging board member, said the group has been working with the library and is supportive of the plans.

"As long as we have a community center to continue our programs, we see it as a win-win situation," she said. "If we have a new home, then we have a bit of room to expand in the future."

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