Library expansion funded by voters

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East Routt Library District voters passed two referendums that clear the way for an expansion of Bud Werner Memorial Library.

Polls closed at 7 p.m Tuesday. Twenty minutes later, results from early voting came out in favor of the library expansion. If those voters were any indication, it seemed people made up their minds long before Election Day.

"I think the expansion of the library is a great opportunity for the community," said Bud Werner Memorial Library board president Tom Hopp. "And this is a validation of the public process we went through to determine what the community really wanted.

"My hat goes off to all the volunteers, especially in the last three years, who put in hundreds of hours of time to make this happen."

Now that funding has been approved, the library board will begin work with the Steamboat Springs Planning Department, Main Street Steamboat Springs and a design committee to develop a design for the outside of the new building.

The design will be completed by architect Barry Petit of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle Ltd., a Minneapolis firm that specializes in library design.

The new Bud Werner Mem--orial Library will include a 21,000-square-foot, two-story expansion and a remodel of the existing 9,000-square-foot building constructed in 1967.

The expansion designs include two facades -- one that maximizes views of the Yampa River and Howelsen Hill and one along Lincoln Avenue that acts as a visual entrance to downtown Steamboat.

"It's taken seven years of work to get to this point," library director Chris Painter said. Seven years ago, the library knocked down walls, eliminated meeting rooms and moved the children's section to the basement. Library officials also began to discuss the possibility of expanding the library.

For the library to remodel its current building and build an expansion to house more books and new services, voters needed to approve two pieces of funding, presented on the ballot as referendums 5A and 5B.

Referendum 5B asked voters to approve an $11.4 million bond issue to fund the construction of the expanded library. The bond issue was paired with Referendum 5A, a mill levy request to fund the upkeep and utility bills for the new facility.

The bond will be paid across 20 years. Residential property owners will pay about $12 a year per $100,000 of home value for the bond issue and $8 a year per $100,000 of property value to cover the maintenance costs for the new library. The new mill levy will take effect in 2007.

Before ground can be broken, a new Steamboat Springs Community Center must be built elsewhere to replace the existing structure, which will be torn down to make room for the library expansion.

-- To reach Autumn Phillips, call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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